The Cattolica dei Greci is the oldest Christian institution in the city of Reggio Calabria. Its construction dates back to around 1000. During the Byzantine period, the church of Santa Maria della Cattolica dei Greci was the main place of Christian worship in the city. With the advent of the Normans, of which the Towers of Bagnara Calabra and Gioiosa Jonica are still present, the church lost its importance to the Latinization of the rite which until then had maintained equal importance in the city of the double cult (religious spirit link). Since that time, however, the Greek rite has continued to be practiced.
The Church and the Byzantine rite
The origins of the Cattolica dei Greci are inextricably linked to the Christian Byzantine cult; in fact, the church was the city’s cathedral for centuries and then, with the advent of the Latin rite, the cathedral of Greek rite. The temple was originally built near where Piazza Italia (culture - the piazza link) is located today. In honour of this, via Cattolica dei Greci (themes of Calabria link) still exists today in the same location.
DID YOU KNOW THAT …?
Did you know that the Cattolica dei Greci is the home of the Protopapa? The title of Protopapa is traditionally given to the holders of an office, usually a parish, that is historically linked to the Byzantine rite communities. The Protopapa of the Cattolica dei Greci was the “leader” of the Greek rite until the 19th century to such an extent that the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Reggio Calabria-Bova was presided over by him until 1818.
The symbolism of the ancient bronze portal
Of notable importance is the gilded bronze portal, work of the Reggio sculptor Giuseppe Niglia. The portal is of an eclectic style, typical of many works carried out in the city, blending the Mediterranean and North-European taste. The portal door, united but not divided by the door, form a sequence of representations that range from the Old to the New Testaments, developing a narrative that opens the path to the central aisle towards the altar.