Reggio Calabria Wireless
Sanctuaries, churches, chapels
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Heritage and Culture
Cathedral Maria SS. Assunta in Cielo – Piazza Duomo

Cathedral Maria SS. Assunta in CieloThe cathedral carries the name of Maria SS. Assunta in Cielo and can be found in the centre of the city, exactly in front of piazza Duomo which is part of the Pastorale area of Reggio Calabria.
The internal history of the church is one of the most complex of the city, many times damaged by war and natural disasters.
The origins of the cathedral date back to St. Paul who came to Reggio during a journey he passed in chains on his way to face Cesare in Rome in 56 AD..

Act 28,13
“...() ..\ from here, passing, we reached Reggio. The next day a south – east wind blew and this way we arrived in Pozzuoli.”

Reggio has been under many dominions, among which that of the Byzantines which took the church from Rome, placing it under the control of Constantinople, then under the Normans (1061), that restored control to Rome, then left to the Greeks with the name of catholic, building a cathedral with three naves.  It was rebuild and consecrated in 1580 by the archbishop Gaspare Ricciulli Del Fosso after a fire set by the Turks (1574) which was then repeated again in 1594 and for this reason underwent numerous restorations among which that of archbishop Annibale D’Afflitto in 1599, of archbishop Gaspare Creales in 1665 and of archbishop Martino Ybanez Y Villanueva in 1682.  More restoration work was done following the earthquake in 1783 by the engineer Giovan Battista Mori until the last major earthquake struck in 1908 which caused considerable damage and led to the decision to re-build the whole structure bringing it in line with the rest of the reconstruction plan for the whole city.

The cathedral today was initially a design by the engineer P.Carmelo Umberto Angiolini and then modified by the engineer Mariano Francesconi and it was consecrated in 1928 by archbishop Mons. Carmelo Pujia.  The building was designed in a style which mixes neoromanic and neogothic styles, based around a primary basilica with three naves interrupted by three pseudo transepts which are as high as the central nave and terminate in an apse polygon. The whole building is 93 meters long and is 26 meters wide and represents the largest building in the region. On the outside stairs there are two sculptures by Francesco Jerace, created in 1929. On the left that of Saint Paul while on the right that of Saint Stefano di Nicea.  The entrance on the right, which represents the life of Saint Paul, was realized by Nunzio Bibbò, while that on the left is dedicated to the Madonna della Consolazione and is by Biagio Poidimani.  The central monumental entrance, by Luigi Venturini,  was opened during the 11th National Eucharist Congress in 1988,  and is dedicated to Maria SS. Assunta in cielo.

The central nave is separated from that on the side by two rows of columns which are covered in marble and have their bases in stone from Trani with different distances in relation to the transepts and along the nave the sides open, under the presbytery or sanctuary, into eight chapels each containing furnishings of major historical and artistic interest.  While inside on the left of the main entrance  we can see an inscription of Pope Paul the 6th walled into the wall, with which he gave the church the title of Basilica, while on the right there is another inscription from Pope John Paul II which proclaimed Saint Paul the primary patron and Saint Stefano di Nicea secondary patron of the Archdioses of Reggio Calabria.   Precious works of art such as the I’Altare Maggiore in bronze, 1800s paintings by Crestadoro and Minali, the chapel of Sacramento which is the baroque monument of the city, built in 1655 by Placido Brandamonte di Messina, while on the altar we find a fine oil painting which shows the sacrifice of Melchisedeck, by Domenico Maroli (1665), in the chapel of Saint Paul we find a large work by the Sicilian painter Carlo Maria Rinaldi, which represents the Consecrazione di Santo Stefano da Nicea and was realized in 1828.  In front of the main altar we find the cathedral arcivescovile, by  Alessandro Monteleone.  Between the central columns we can admire the Pergamo in marble by Francesco Jerace (1902), in which the pulpit is surrounded by symbols of the four evangelists and on the balustrades we can admire the  teachings of Saint Paul.
On the left side of the cathedral we find the Saint Paul auditorium which holds some treasures from the old cathedral.

(Taken from "Reggio Città d'Arte - Daniele Castrizio, Maria Rosaria Fascì, Renato G.Laganà).

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