The Italian cathedrals are incredible: historic, full of charm and with real gems inside! The Cathedral of Reggio Calabria is one of them. In the heart of the city, it is impeccably presented, full of charm and with incomparable beauty. Today we will explore and get to know the Cathedral of Reggio Calabria better. Let´s go!!! The Cathedral of Reggio Calabria. Stay with us and make the best of boot country! Here at Traveling to Calabria you make the trip of your dreams!!! Are you staying in Calabria? Looking for a hotel? Click here and discover best accommodation options in Calabria!
The postcard of Reggio di Calabria
Along with the Castello Aragonese, the Basilica is the postcard of Reggio di Calabria. It is among the most beautiful temples in Calabria, an indisputable symbol of the religiousness of Reggio and Calabrian architecture. Dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, the cathedral of Reggio Calabria and the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Reggio-Bova are located in the Duomo Square, in the old town of Reggio di Calabria.
The church has its origins in the preaching of St Paul the Apostle in which, as it is written in the Acts of the Apostles (28:13) “From Syracuse, bordering the coast, we reach Reggio”, where he made a one-day stop during the journey from Caesarea to Rome in the year 61 AD. The Church in Roman and Byzantine times had Greek rites; with the rule of the Normans, the Church gave the Greeks a cathedral of their own and built a new basilica, initiating the Latinization of the whole Duchy of Calabria. Since then it has been alternating in restoration and reformation, due to the continuous Turkish attacks, that burned and destroyed the great temple of Reggio in 1500, with more than 5 invasions in that century.
To complete the tragedy, in 1783 a violent earthquake destroyed the Cathedral of Reggio Calabria, which was later rebuilt in Rococo style. With visible influences of the neoclassical, it had a Latin cross and three naves. But the catastrophic earthquake of 1908 damaged it irreparably, and was finally demolished and re-erected in Art Nouveau style, a mixture of Gothic and Romanesque. According to the influence of eclecticism, the rescue of the romantic and gothic elements added personality to the sacred monument, giving originality, solemnity and harmony.
More about it…
With its 94 m in length and 26 m in width, the Cathedral is the largest religious building in Calabria. The current Cathedral has the standard basilica design, with three naves separated by supporting pillars, ending with apses divided by arches resting on pilasters.
The central part of the frontage displays a trefoil supported by a rosette, framed and decorated with a floral motif. The central Florian is surrounded by a thick embossed decoration, representing the Eucharistic symbols of bread (wheat ear) and wine (branches and grape leaves). Above are seven feline figures (lion and panther) that, according to the biblical tradition (much preserved in Roman times) recall the force capable of guarding and defending the word of God, which was revealed to men.
On the frontage we find 3 bronze gates, the portal on the left is dedicated to Our Lady of Consolation. The engravings represent, from the bottom up, from left to right:
- the painter Andrea di Niccolò while drawing the painting of Our Lady of Consolation;
- the apparition of the Virgin to the Capuchin friar Antonio Tripodi during the plague of 1577 – Our Lady announces the end of the disease and the need to thank God in that place;
- in 1657, in order to be spared the plague, representatives of various hierarchical levels of the monarchy establish that every year a feast, sponsored by the Council, lighting a candle at the feet of Our Lady;
- the 1908 earthquake that destroyed the city;
- the reconstruction of the monastery’s basilica and the enthusiasm of the inauguration;
- homage to Our Lady of Consolation by Pope John Paul.
The portal on the right is dedicated to Saint Paul. The figures represent:
- Saul shone with grace;
- Paul in the Areopagus of Athens;
- docking in Reggio;
- Paul speaks to the people of Reggio;
- the consecration of St. Stephen;
- Paul’s martyrdom.
The central door is dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption and its figures represent:
- the annunciation;
- the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth;
- the birth of Jesus;
- the presentation of Jesus in the temple;
- the crucifixion of Jesus;
- the descent of the Holy Spirit;
- the assumption to the heaven and coronation of Mary.
The interior of the cathedral is in Romanesque style with motifs of classic inspiration; wide and lit by huge colorful stained glass windows adorned with geometric and ornamental themes. On the staircase that leads to the immense and imposing enclosed, there are the majestic statues of St. Paul (who, according to legend, would have converted the village of Reggio to Christianity) and St. Stephen (first bishop of the city). The statues were carved in 1928 by Francesco Jerace and placed on the churchyard in 1934. In addition to these, Jerace also carved the pulpit inside the church, which was delicately decorated.
As reported in Sacred Scripture (Acts 28:13), St. Paul, who was imprisoned in Caesarea’s jail, was transferred to Rome to be tried by Emperor Nero. Arriving on the beach of Reggio happens, next to the ruins of the ancient temple of Diana, the ‘miracle of the burning columns’. Thus, he preached the Good News to the people of Reggio. He then consecrated St. Stephen, his traveling companion and first bishop of the city, entrusting him with the task of evangelizing the whole region, founding local churches and consecrating other bishops. The ‘apostle of the Gentiles’ was acquitted of the Roman court, but recaptured a few years later. He was subjected to the martyrdom of the decapitation (year 66 or 67), on the Ostiense road, near the current Basilica of St. Paul, where the saint is buried.
Saint Stephen, having been consecrated bishop of Reggio and head of the local church for some years, was condemned to death by the governor of Rome in 73. He was buried in the area where today is the neighborhood of Santa Maria, where there was a small chapel dedicated to her until 1908.
Among the central columns is the marble pulpit (1902), by Francesco Gerace. This was placed on a large high-base marble pillar with a serpent in twisted pink quartz and, on top, the symbols of the four evangelists. At the front of the baluster there is a work of white marble in relief, representing the miracle of the burning column.
What is the miracle of the holy fire?
In the chapel dedicated to Saint Paul, we find the remains of the column of the temple of Diana (protector of midwives and infants). It is said that in Reggio, in the spring of 61, the apostle Paul arrived, who came from Caesarea to go to Rome. The saint insisted on speaking to the local people, but was allowed only to stay a short time. Enough time to witness the prodigy of the fire: the flames of a torch propped on the pillar miraculously and took over the entire column. St. Paul was then able to preach the Christian message throughout the city, conquering the hearers.
The cathedral bell tower
The history of the bell tower is parallel to that of the cathedral, but somewhat more complex due to the various incidents that have occurred in the last centuries and five more episodes of reconstruction and restoration. Because of the position in which it originally stood, well in front of the temple, the belfry suffered many damages due to natural events. The bell tower is 28 meters high and has three bells: ‘Metropolitana’ (nicknamed ‘campanone’), ‘del Capitolo’ and ‘della Conciliazione’.
The Metropolitan bell refers to the year 1743 and was made by artists of Messina. In 1750 the tower was damaged due to the earthquake; then the bishop of the time, Damiano Palau, entrusted to Nicola Astarita the task of restoring it and decorating it in gold, silver and bronze.
The bell of the Capitolo
The bell of the Capitolo was created in memory of the disaster caused by the earthquake of 1908. It was fused in Gallic acid, in the north of the periphery of Reggio, with the fragments of bells of several local churches that had been destroyed by the earthquake and also with the bell of the church-shack (Cathedral built by Pope Pius X). After the blessing of Archbishop Carmelo Pujia, the bell was then placed in the tower on August 27, 1928.
The bell of the Conciliazione
The bell of the Conciliazione was the last to be placed in the tower on May 24, 1930. Also with the blessing of Archbishop Carmelo Pujia, the bell bears an emblem in relief, as the name says, of the effigy of Our Lady of Consolation, matron saint of the city of Reggio Calabria.
The Chapel of the Most Blessed Sacrament
The history of the Cathedral of Reggio di Calabria passed, as we have just seen, by various destructions due to earthquakes, wars and fires and consequently submitted to various reconstructions. It is for these reasons that it has been acclaimed, more than all others, as the symbol of communion and perseverance of a deeply religious community. Thanks to its breadth, to the splendor of its art, to the memory of the honored saints and to the multitude of faithful who gather there, the Chapel of the Most Blessed Sacrament wins from all other churches in Calabria.
Inside the Cathedral
Inside the Cathedral we find the solemn Chapel of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the most important Baroque monument in the city. It was declared a national patrimony in the nineteenth century by President Saragat thanks to the preciousness of the colored marbles inlaid with Florentine mosaic. The architectural plan of the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is shaped almost square and was built in 1655 by Placido Brandamonte of Messina. The walls are all decorated with fauna and flora theme, in Florentine colored mosaic and lined with Venetian enamel. On the side has eight nooks, where are statues of some saints. At the altar has four yellow columns and on top a valuable painting, oil on canvas, which reproduces the sacrifice of Melchizedek, written by Domenico Maroli (1665).
- Opening and closing times of the Cathedral:
- Winter: 7:00 a.m. / noon – 3:30 p.m. / 7:00 p.m.
- Summer: 7:00 a.m. / noon – 4:00 p.m. / 8:00 p.m
Holy Mass Schedule
- Sundays: 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (from June to September the celebration takes place at 7:00 p.m.).
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How to get there?
The Cathedral is in the heart of the city, in the historical center. The Square is located in front of Corso G. Garibaldi, which connects the two ends of the Railway Station and the National Museum.
1) How to get there? BY PLANE
The cathedral is about 15 minutes away from the Tito Minniti Airport, in Reggio Calabria. There are buses that go from the airport to the Cathedral. For information on schedules and itineraries, contact the information center of the Metropolitan Area Transportation Company by toll-free number +39 800 43 33 10. As with all public transportation, you must make the ticket reservation before boarding the bus (they are available in tobacconists and newspaper stands).
2) How to get there? BY TRAIN
It is possible to access the Cathedral with public transport by the two railway stations of Reggio Calabria. You get there in 10 minutes with most of the trains heading straight south. It is also fast coming from Central Station, from Lido Station takes 10 minutes.
3) How to get there? BY BOAT AND FERRY
It takes 10 minutes from the port of Reggio Calabria to the Cathedral. From the port Villa San Giovanni (RC), the cathedral is 6 km away. At the ports, cars are available for rental, you also can take the bus and subway.
4) How to get there? BY CAR
By the A3 Salerno – Reggio Calabria, take the exit at Reggio Calabria. Take the road towards the center; to cross the old town takes about five minutes.
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A Little more of the Beauties of Calabria
To conclude, we can only visit this magnificent work, placed right in the heart of the city. Place where art is so rich that the atmosphere turns into charm for the eyes and heart – exciting sensations even for non-Catholics. Knowing the Cathedral is almost mandatory for those who go to Reggio Calabria.
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