In 1892 Don Francesco Sacchero (from Canelli), appointed Mons. G. Marello, founder of the Congregation of St. Joseph built at the Opera Pia Michelerio and then transferred to the Casa di S. Chiara in Asti, and Don Cortona, universal heirs to establish a work for charity.
The land was chosen, belonging to Don Sacchero, located beyond the Belbo torrent along the road that connects Canelli to Cassinasco. In 1903, he began the construction of the male orphanage which was later joined by a boarding school.
In 1917, the basement of the House which was used as a theater was requisitioned for military use. During the war of 1915-18, the Zoppa company distributed a soup to the poor and a dish with bread and wine in the feasts.
The orphans diminished and the Probanti, or the young aspirants of religious life, were hosted in the Casa di Canelli: the Superior Gymnasium of the Congregation is set up.
In the current hall, on the first floor, the Chapel was located, but soon there was the need for a real church that not only served to the student priests, but also to the neighboring population who had considerable difficulty in reaching the parish of St. Tommaso.
In 1932, with the blessing of Pope Pius XI, communicated by Cardinal Pacelli, then Pope Pius XII, with the approval of the Bishop of Acqui, Monsignor L. Delponte, and the parish priest of St. Tommaso, Don Carlo Benazzo, the process for the construction of the Church of Sacro Cuore (in Canelli better known as S. Chiara because it was desired by the Fathers of St. Joseph whose Motherhouse of Asti was located in the ancient convent of St. Clare).
The first official news was given on January 10, 1932, and the task was entrusted to prepare the project to the canon Prof. Alessandro Thea. On 6 August 1933 the works commissioned to the enterprise of Carlo Torchio began. Promoter and guide of the aforementioned was Father Simone Marsero who did not see the completed work having died a month before the inauguration on June 16, 1935.
From 1947 to 1960, the religious complex hosted the philosophical studentate of the Congregation and then the seat of the preparatory school.
With the increased urban population, it was felt the need to increase the Parishes of Canelli and November 27, 1977, Monsignor Moiso, Bishop of Acqui, erected the church of Sacro Cuore in Parish.
Simple and slender it is characterized by white pilasters that stand out against the brick background and tripart the whole suggesting the three internal naves. An elegant Vicenza stone arch on which stands the statue of the Blessing Sacred Heart (by Emilio Demetz) gives rise to a large pronaos with main entrance in the center and at the sides two doors that lead into the church for a small hall used as a compass.
The doors are in Slovenian oak and made by the Musso and Seitone carpenters according to the Thea design. The whole is eclectic with some neo-gothic impetus as it was used in the first few decades of the century.
• Bell tower
In the project he would have to rise considerably and finish with a high spire but it was not finished. A cropped tower remains from the original. The bells do not exist and their sound propagates with a registered electronic system.
Latin cross plan divided into three naves: a central large and elevated and two lateral. The space is divided into eight columns in red Verona marble with a marble pedestal of S. Vitale and a base in verdello. The capitals, in verdello, are four-sided with bas-reliefs with a symbolic theme (works by the Pallavicini brothers of Acqui).
On the capitals there are large arches that support a wall that elevates the central nave. This space is entirely frescoed with episodes taken from the Gospel (works by Laiolo?). Six stylized three-light windows illuminate the hall.
Constituted by a high tribune, also frescoed (Last Supper) and illuminated by a high stylized three-mullioned window.
• Right aisle
Three are the re-entrant Chapels. Very simple and equipped with marble altars in accordance with the other elements of the Church.
1st Chapel: without a balustrade, it was recently dedicated to Blessed Marello (once used for parish notices).
2nd Chapel: dedicated to the Crucifix- altarpiece by P. G. Crida
3rd Chapel: dedicated to St. Joseph - altarpiece by P. G. Crida 1941
• Left aisle
1st Chapel: dedicated to St. Anthony
2nd Chapel: dedicated to S. Rita da Cascia- pala by P. G. Crida 1937
3rd Chapel: dedicated to Mary (there are no more precise dedications).
Raised by three marble steps of S. Ambrogio, it is crowned at the top by a dome resting on the octagonal drum and illuminated by eight triple windows. A gold band, with writing, underlines its shape. In the area below the four connecting pinnacles, the Laiolo frescoes portray the Evangelists.
The Presbytery is limited, at the bottom, by 4 columns of marble pernicino with rich composite capitals on which rest two lowered arches (one on each side) and two galleries used as a choir. They are adorned with 4 small columns with beautiful capitals which in turn support a wall underlined by a fake large arch decorated with symbols.
The main altar is in marble and harmonizes with the whole.
In the apse, in a niche decorated with decorative and architectural elements, stands the statue of the Sacred Heart. In the basin a fresco depicting the Trinity.
The balustrade that occupies three sides of the presbytery, is in a perforated green with morocco onyx mirrors.
On the right and on the left there are two wide and wide openings (the transept) once destined for the aspirants and the other for the public, but currently, as there are no more student-priests, they are both for the public.
From the left transept opens the sacristy that communicates, through a corridor and a staircase, with the bell tower and with the two women's galleries.
Currently, the church, the house and the courtyards, serve for the Parish, only a part of the first floor, the first floor and all the second floor of the ancient gymnasium, are rented to a Technical-Professional school.
The Fathers serve as Cappellani at the Canelli hospital.
Source: the news and data listed above are taken from “newspapers” and documents lying in the Parish itself and in photocopy at the Municipal Library that can show more detailed information on the founders and benefactors.
For more information: https://www.beweb.chiesacattolica.it/