On April 25, 1918, Fr. Dehon had an audience with Pope Benedict XV who was a friend of the founder already before his election as pontiff. During the visit Fr. Dehon suggested to the pope that he install an altar of the Sacred Heart at St. Peter’s; this would be a sign that the Vatican is consecrated to the Sacred Heart. The Holy Father “has appreciated the project” (NQT 42/62). Dehon suggests a mosaic with the apparition of the Sacred Heart to Margaret Mary Alacoque. Later, Fr. Dehon wrote: “The newspapers announced that the Holy Father is preparing an altar of the Sacred Heart for St. Peter’s. My petition was granted. Thanks be to God!” (NQT 42/77).
Count Carlo Muccioli made an initial canvas. Exhibited on site it was found to be faulty. He made a second for which the “Fabbrica de San Pietro” (bursar) paid 50,000 Lire on October 26, 1920. The cloth was then cut into 45 pieces to be transformed into a mosaic. The mosaic was to cost 500,000 Lire, paid by the bursar (cf. the documents in the General Archives Inv.-Nr. 879.06-08). On April 29, 1921, work began on the construction of the mosaic and ended on August 15, 1925, almost simultaneously with Fr. Dehon’s death. Fr. Dehon was unable to see the work that he had urged, traces of which can be found today at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Dehon Study Center