An impressive Sanctuary built around the tomb of 20th century Italian mystic Natuzza Evolo has been equipped with DPA microphones to ensure optimum speech intelligibility during religious meetings and monthly masses.
Based in Paravati in Southern Italy, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Souls Sanctuary was officially opened last year. Built by the Natuzza Evolo Foundation and covering 150,000 square meters, it has four separate chapels including one very large space that can accommodate up to 900 people.
Acoustician Toni Soddu, founder and CEO of London-based Grand Acoustics, was responsible for designing and installing the sound reinforcement systems in each of the chapels and in walkways that connect one chapel to another. Soddu, who has extensive experience in designing auditoria, conference halls, rehearsal rooms, theatres and music venues, was also responsible for all equipment choices and he worked closely with DPA’s Italian distributor M. Casale Bauer to ensure the Sanctuary got the correct DPA microphones for its needs.
“My brief was to provide a user-friendly sound reinforcement system that was unobtrusive and included the very latest technology,” he explains. “As speech intelligibility was a key factor in this project, it was imperative that I chose the right microphones. DPA was top of the list because I’ve used these microphones for many years, particularly on music projects, and I know they are extremely reliable. They also sound fantastic and are exceptionally well designed, providing optimal vocal reproduction even in places like a church where hard marble surfaces can make reverberation times quite high. As we have installed an active monitoring system, we also needed microphones that had high rejection to feedback. DPA fitted this brief perfectly across its entire range.”
The list of DPA microphones installed at the Sanctuary includes eight d:screet™ Podium Microphones, eight d:fine™ Directional Headset Microphones with wireless adapters and eight d:screet™ Necklace Microphones, which feature the company’s legendary d:screet™ 4061 Miniature Omnidirectional Capsule in a soft rubber necklace.
“Church ceremonies, and the ambience surrounding them, are very different from music events, so it was important to have microphones that could perform perfectly with many different aspects of speech,” Soddu says. “The range we have specified gives the Sanctuary plenty of choice so they now have the right product for every application. The d:screet™ Podium Microphones are great for standing use, especially for inexperienced speakers who don’t know how to deal with a handheld mic. The d:fine™ Headset Microphones are ideal for ceremonies where there are multiple celebrants and the d:screet Necklace Microphones are perfect for single celebrants, especially priests who want an invisible solution that doesn’t detract from their religious dress. With d:fine™ Headset and Necklace Microphones, the celebrants can also move around freely and don’t have to worry about knocking their microphone out of position.”
Response to the microphones from Sanctuary staff has been very positive. “Everyone loves the DPA mics and if my customers are happy, then I certainly am,” Soddu says.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Souls Sanctuary is now awaiting official inauguration from the Archdiocese of Mileto. Natuzza Evolo, who inspired the building, is being considered for Beautification. Her stigmata and visions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary made her famous amongst devout Italian Catholics, many of whom would travel to Paravati to ask her for advice and guidance, with some also claiming that she had cured them of illness.
Natuzza died in 2009 at the age of 85 and her tomb was dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Sinners. Her funeral mass was celebrated by six Italian bishops and 100 priests, not to mention thousands of Catholics who came from all over Europe to pay their respects.
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