The Cathedral

The Cathedral of Gerace is the "most outstanding buildings in Calabria, G. by Fiore, Calabria illustrated, II, 305. It, reconciling Greek and Latin characters, was built on the remains of a pre-existing sacred structure devoted to Aghìa Kyriakì (Saint Ciriaca) dating back to the eighth century, between 1085 and 1120, under Normans domination. The building is characterized by a triple nave and Latin cross, in Byzantine-Romanesque-Norman style, measuring 1898 square meters. and is the largest Romanesque church in southern Italy. It is dedicated to the Assumption. The Cathedral is the most representative monument of Byzantine-Romanesque-Norman style in Calabria and is impressive both inside and outside. It was built between the late eleventh and early twelfth century (under the reign of Roger the Second), based on an existing structure devoted to sacred Aghìa Kyriakì (Saint Ciriaca) in the Norman period. The symmetry of the two apses placed on the same line, is due to seismic events that have weakened since the Swabian period whole west area of the structure. As a result the western apse, built with rectangular blocks of local sandstone, and was extended by Battista Caracciolo Count of Gerace between 1432 and 1449, while the central blocks of stone and mortar, rebuilding was made by bishop Pellicano with the portal Baroque in 1829, replacing the balcony collapsed in the earthquake of 1744. On the two apses, oriented to the east according to the Byzantine style, there are two monocular.
The nearby Arch of Bishops was built towards the end of the 500 and had the function to give more splendor at the entrance of newly elected bishops coming on the back of a white donkey, the church of S. Martin. On top is a characteristic Meridiana still works with the arms of the bishop. Beyond the arch of the meridian, to the north there is immediately the primitive apse. The large longitudinal body is divided into three aisles by 20 columns of granite and marble (grooved or smooth), interrupted in the middle of two pillars surmounted by capitals of T. Along the left aisle there is the bas-relief depicting the Incredulity of S. Thomas operating in the first half of '500. The apse houses the altar of the Sacred Heart of Mary made in 1771 by Neapolitan Domenico Mazza.
In the right transept are located the tomb of John and Count Battista Caracciolo (built in 1575 by Domenico Manni) and the tomb of Polizzi’s family made towards the end of the sixteenth century by Lorenzo Calamech. The marble facing of the SS. Sacramento is of the first half of the seventeenth century built by local craftsmen. The beautiful tabernacle is surrounded by eight columns surmounted by many capitals. In the chapel there are two paintings of the Last Supper (XVIII sec.) of Neapolitan School and Holy Family of 1682.
The altar wanted by Bishop I. Del Tufo in polychrome marble is of 1731 built by Antonio and Giuseppe Palazzotto from Catania and Antonino Amato from Messina. The ecumenical table in White tuff was consecrated in 1995 by Bishop Bregantini and the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Spiridione in a spirit of fraternal ecumenism as can be read as written in Greek and Latin for "to be one thing". The crypt below shows a particular iconography with a not regular Greek cross, divided by 26 columns of bare. The classical and Byzantine capitals, except in a Corinthian foliage, were made in 1853 by the vicar Michael Sirgiovanni who wanted to cover them with typical period decoration. Its history is linked to the fate of the first hermits of Gerace between the seventh century ..Under the original cave, the most important, later was probably built a Byzantine chapel and at the end of the eleventh century has been transformed into the crypt after the construction of the above longitudinal body. The Shrine of Madonna dell'Itria is enclosed by a wrought iron gate of seventeenth century, built by artisans Serres .On the altar is placed the statue of the Virgin and Child of the fourteenth century. In ancient times there was placed an icon depicting “Virgine dell'Itria”, according to legend discovered in a box on the shores of the sea front. The chapel is decorated with stucco decorations wanted by the bishop Baldinelli Sauli in the early '500 and by Bishop Orazio Mattei in 1613. The Precious wall decorations are in marble representing the titles attributed to Mary in the Litany. In The crypt there is a museum containing valuables nucleus belonging to the Cathedral Treasury and other artifacts that come from the churches of S. Martin, S. Anna, Carmine and Sacred Heart. Are Part of the Treasury, but not yet displayed,precious vestments (piano and copes of silk rolled gold of great value) and numerous scrolls. In particular, a double cross arm reliquary of the twelfth century, a silver pix copper of 1607, a glass filigree commissioned in 1726 by Bishop Diez de Aux, a silver statue of the Assumption, commissioned by the bishop and built by the Neapolitan Gaetano Dattilo in 1772, a silver ciborium of 1855, eleven choral parchment written in Latin of the late fifteenth century, attest the passage from the Greek rite to the Latin rite, a crown donated by citizens of Gerace in 1947 made by the Neapolitan Michael Agrippa, two crowns in gold and silver of 1998 made by Gerardo Sacco and a great silver map commissioned in 1759 by the parish priest of St. George Anthony Ruso, a decorated monstrance of the first half of the nineteenth century commissioned by Bishop Pellicano.
On the right of the crypt there is a blind arch where there is a so called “sinopia” of the seventeenth century depicting the Virgin and Child with St. Maurice and St. Ambrose. The limestone storage placed next to the church according some scholars, may be ritual of a pagan altar, others supports that it is the stairway to the upper floor, located in connection with the aisles of the transept (ditto other side). The Cathedral, because of the numerous damages suffered as a result of earthquakes, has been restructured several times.
Adjacent to the cathedral there is the Seminary, the second to be based in Calabria after the Council of Trent and it is under renovation. Inside the Cathedral you can visit:


1. Cross Reliquary One of the most representative thing of the Treasury of the Cathedral is the Cross-reliquary double arm imported from the East. It is finely worked. It has eight pattern quatrefoils and trimmings. 2. The Monstrance The admirable ostensory of the Pellicano bishop of the first half of the nineteenth century. Is cast and chased silver, decorated with gold and precious stones, Naples handicrafts. On the base the images are placed representing the theological virtues and the Good Shepherd. The spokes adorned with cherubs and ears is governed by angels in the round.



3. The choral The eleven choral books were written on parchment after the transition from the Greek rite to the Latin rite which took place in 1480 thanks to Bishop Athanasius Calceopulo. Written by Gregory Papacardio, liturgical codes are illuminated in red and black gothic letters.

 











4. The gold crown with diamonds The gold crown with diamonds and semiprecious stones, was donated by the people voting to the Madonna Immacolata in 1947 for the miraculous intervention of the possible explosion of a gunpowder magazine that would destroy Gerace.


5. The silver statue of St. Assumption The silver statue of St. Mary Assunta, commissioned by Bishop Pier Domenico Scoppa, was made by Neapolitan Gaetano Dattilo in 1771. Exceptional sophistication in rich decorative drapery which recalls the precious brocades of the age.

 


6. The Bust of Saint Venerable In the skull of the silver bust of St. Venerable (1705, Sebastian Juvarra) are preserved relics of the Saint who lived, according to the tradition, in Gerace in the district of Citadella.
 




The vestments Admirable are the vestments woven in gold and silver ranging of the fifteenth century onwards. They show the magnificence and the care with which the bishops loved to animate the sacred liturgies. Christ crucified in ivory of Flemish inspiration probably of the fifteenth century to be put on the desk. The cartouche and the coating of arms of the cross are decorated with embossed silver leaf. Painting of the Holy Family of 1682 From the ancient church of San Giuseppe we have the Holy Family of 1682. The painting was commissioned by Abbot Joseph Mittiga and is attributable to the Calabrian artist training in Naples.