The Church of San Giorgio al Corso is in Corso Garibaldi, next to Via Giudecca and is dedicated to the Patron Saint of the city. It was consecrated in 1596. In the square next to the church (Piazza San Giorgio) stood the statue of the Guardian Angel that dates back to 1637 and represents St. Michael the Archangel, originally placed there to protect the city, not far from Porta della Dogana. Today the sculpture is under restauration and can be seen at Palazzo San Giorgio, waiting to be located within the church.
The Ancient Cult of St. George in the City
The origin of the Cult of Saint George in the City dates back to the beginning of the 11th century when the people of Reggio defeated the Saracens. According to history, the Saracens, after disembarking in Reggio Calabria from Syracuse, destroyed the monastery of San Nicolò on Punta Calamizzi and damaged the effigies of the Church of San Giorgio. However, led by Duke Ruggero Borsa, the people of Reggio counterattacked, protected by Saint George. They regained Syracuse and elected Saint George himself as their protector.
DID YOU KNOW THAT…?
Did you know that the municipal elections were decided at the altar of the Church of San Giorgio? The tradition of the cult of the Patron Saint George in Reggio is very old In particular, the municipal elections were decided every year in the current Church of San Giorgio al Corso with a solemn act at the foot of the altar of the patron saint. The electoral lists were published at the Palazzo di Città (the current Palazzo S. Giorgio), then the six names of those running for councillor were drawn. The names were enclosed in silver balls and placed in separate bags, according to socioeconomic classes, which were then placed on the altar of Saint George. On the last day of the election, after the Mass of the Holy Spirit, the names drawn by the hand of a child became the three mayors who then governed the municipality for a year.
The Statue of the Guardian Angel
In addition to the Church of San Giorgio, in the square of the same name, on the opposite side of the church, there is a marble statue of St. Michael the Archangel. This statue, one of the few testimonies to date of the 17th century city, contains several meanings and was originally located a short distance from the customs gate, next to the Carmelite Church. The statue is made of Greek marble, representing a warrior, a defender of the Christian people; his left arm holds a shield with the coat of arms of Reggio. Saint George is shown on horseback in the act of killing the dragon. The statue, after almost a hundred years on display in the City Museum, has been restored and relocated in piazza San Giorgio, where you can admire it today.