photo © Louise Shapcott
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta of Atina
The Cathedral Exterior
In 1873 the building was damaged once again by an earthquake which caused the need for major repairs. Further enhancements to the structure were included in the work and then on the 3 May 1878 it was deemed to grant the church the higher status of a Cathedral and it was re-
Atina’s Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta proudly stands in Piazza Marconi alongside the Palazzo della Prepositura. The first church was founded in the 11th century on the site of an ancient Roman temple dedicated to the God Saturn. At this time the church was dedicated to San Giovanni Battista. The remains of the martyr San Marco were deposited in this early church which was first documented in 1208 in the privilege of Pope Innocent III.
In 1349 the whole of Atina was destroyed in a devastating earthquake. Subsequently a new church was constructed. In 1405 a bell tower with four bells was erected, three large and one small to signal the hour. By the 16th century the church had been significantly enlarged, it had three chapels dedicated to the Santissimo Rosario, San Giovanni Battista and San Giuseppe. Soon more chapels were added dedicated to the Santissimo Crocifisso and la Madonna di Loreto, the Santissimo Sacramento and Sant’Antonio di Padova. In 1623 the church door was struck by a violent lightening bolt.
The church, as we see it today, is decorated in an ornate Baroque style. The grand facade has two bell towers and in the niche between them is a statue of San Giovanni.
The Cathedral Interior
The Decoration of the Cathedral Interior
The interior of the cathedral was embellished with some beautiful frescoes by the painter, Teodoro Mancini (1796-1868), born in Atina. There is a memorial plaque on the house were he was born in Via Planca. Mancini had studied at the Academy in Naples and had won a scholarship to complete his studies in Rome as a student of the Antonio Canova. Some of his grand works were destroyed during the second World War. Those that are still remaining depict “St Thomas Aquinas”, “The Transfiguration”, “St Luke” and “St Matthew”. In the early 1900’s several more frescoes were added by the hand of Vincenzo Galloppi, who was also an artist of the Neapolitan school. These included: “The Coronation of the Madonna” and “The Baptism of St John the Baptist”. Sadly some canvases by the artist Luigi Velpi were stolen from the Cathedral in 2010. The cathedral’s ornate dome is richly decorated with gilded stucco work in the Baroque style. The pipe organ which was built in 1737 by the Catarinozzi family, master organ builders of Affile.
Side Chapels and Altars
There are several side altars and chapels dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie, Sant’Anna, the Madonna di Pompei, the Sacred Heart, the Santissimo, the Crucifixion and the La Madonna Dormiente.
The central wooden pulpit and confessional, which is carved with the ancient emblem of Atina, dates from 1738 and the baptismal font and the wooden baptistery were executed in 1750 by two artists from Naples.
The Statue of San Marco Patron Saint of Atina
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Last Updated Dec 2018