The Cathedral of Reggio Calabria is one of the main icons of the city, along with the Riace Bronzes and the “Italo Falcomatà” waterfront. An identifiable place of par excellence in Reggio Calabria, especially for the community of the faithful, the Duomo, located in the heart of the city centre, shows a neo-Romanesque style with some variations that make it unique in Italy. Born from a project by Father Carmelo Angiolini, the Duomo dominates the large square in front by entrusting to the imposing statues of St. Paul, on the left, and Saint Stefano da Nicea, on the right (both from the work of the sculptor Francesco Jerace, 1934), who have the task of welcoming the faithful and other visitors.
The Mariano cult
A strong bond has always linked the Duomo to the Mariano cult. The community of Reggio’s devotion to the Madonna della Consolazione, patroness of the city, is symbolically enclosed in the painting of Nicolino Andrea Capriolo, dating back to 1547 and depicting the Virgin enthroned, holding the Divine Son, flanked by Saints Antonio da Padua and Francis of Assisi. The Holy effigy is revered by the Reggio people as a symbol of hope and relief and is offered to embrace the faith from the second Saturday of September each year until the last Sunday of November, when, a solemn procession leads her back to the Basilica dell’Eremo, the place where she is hosted year-round.
Falls and rebirths
It is a long and complex story, but, at the same time, it involves continuous motions of cultural, architectural, and spiritual rebirth, which traces the origins and events of the Cathedral of Reggio Calabria. Repeatedly rebuilt, following looting, fires, or destruction due to seismic events, the Cathedral’s fate between the 4th and 14th centuries is unclear. Destroyed by the Saracens around the middle of the 11th century, it was later rebuilt by the Normans and again devastated by the Turks in 1574. At the end of the 18th century, the repair and adaptation work was started by the Archbishop Mons. Creales and completed by the Archibishops Martino Ybanez and Villanueva. In more recent times, the two devastating earthquakes of 1783 and 1908, which twice required the reconstruction of the building, marked its fortunes.
The largest sacred building in Calabria
It was Pope Paul IV in 1978 who raised the Cathedral of Reggio Calabria to the dignity of a minor Basilica, sanctioning its territorial centrality as the mother church of the Archdiocese and the largest sacred building in Calabria (measuring 94 metres in length, 22 in width, and 21 in height). A motivated decision in the papal bull of the time was made with these words: "Among the multiple titles of honour, religious piety and faith, for which, in every age, the Church of Reggio has been distinguished, one of the most ancient and venerable, in a correctly unique way, it is glory both for the coming to Reggio di San Paolo Apostolo, and its Cathedral Church. This is due to hits breadth and splendour of art, as well as the memories of the saints kept there, and the multitudes of the faithful who gather there; in fact, it is reported as, and truly is, the first among all the churches of Calabria.”
DID YOU KNOW THAT …?
Did you know that the prodigy of San Paolo is kept inside the Cathedral of Reggio Calabria? The legend of the San Paolo column is linked to the origins of Christianity in Southern Italy, when the apostle Paul arrived in Reggio Calabria as a prisoner of the Romans. Legend has it that during the celebrations of the goddess Diana Fascelide, Paolo arrived at the temple and began to speak to the crowd, telling of a just God, who had sent his son into the world to teach brotherhood, free slaves, and console the afflicted; instead, he spoke ill of the pagan gods as false and liars. This led the priests to hurl themselves against him and to silence him. Paul then asked to be able to talk again about the time needed for a candle to be consumed and lit and placed it on the capital of a marble column of the temple. A gust of wind caused the flame to stagger when it touched the column that caught fire like it was wood. A majestic flame surrounded the stone column, illuminating the faces of the stunned crowd who prostrated on their knees, asking for the sacrament of baptism.