The Chapel of the Holy Spirit was a particular challenge, not only because of its sacred purpose, but also because of its daunting site specifications and requirements.
The 3,300 SF Chapel of the Holy Spirit sits on a modest triangular plot between the newly built Domus Sanctae Marthae residence and the Leonine Wall that surrounds the city. The Vatican wanted a chapel that would reflect today’s thinking and blend with the history and magnificence of the surrounding architecture. They also requested that the structure not exceed the height of the Leonine Wall or the second story of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Astorino created a design that, from foundation to finishing architectural details, incorporates the triangle as a representation of the Holy Trinity.
The floor plan is built on a triangular grid; the east and west walls and northern bell tower are created of triangular elements; and the carrara marble that covers the floor is cut in small triangles. The traditional interior, with a nave and two side aisles, is illuminated by a combination of natural and artificial light. A glass wall constructed along the Leonine Wall side allows the famous wall to become a part of the chapel’s interior and permits natural light to permeate the space.
Architects added religious symbolism throughout the interior. The altar sits on a large marble triangle surrounded by 12 triangles representing Jesus and the Apostles. A three-dimensional, inverted cross at the chapel’s entrance celebrates St. Peter, whose grave sits 100 yards away.