The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta of Atina

The Cathedral Exterior

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.

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-dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta.

Since then the building has withstood the further serious earthquakes of 1915 and 1984.  During WWII and the heavy bombing of Atina by the Allies the cathedral was seriously damaged, the dome was destroyed and several treasured works of art were lost.

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 Rocco.

© Gianpiero Vassalli

The Dome of the Cathedral

© Eugenio Emilio Frederick

© Italo Caira

© Giuseppe Massa

   © Eugenio Emilio Frederick

The Cathedral Interior

The interior of the church has a central nave and two side aisles.  Below are views looking towards the main altar.

photo – Archivio Biblioteca di Atina

© Italo Caira

The Altar

photo – Archivio Biblioteca di Atina

© Italo Caira

© Italo Caira

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.

Teodoro Mancini of Atina Italy

© Italo Caira

© Italo Caira

photo – Archivio Biblioteca di Atina

photo – Archivio Biblioteca di Atina

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 Crucifiso, and the Sleeping Madonna.

The Choir Stalls

The Pulpit and Confessional

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

photo – Archivio Biblioteca di Atina

Italian Heart

Photos have been accredited to the photographer / owner.  Images marked * are in the Public Domain. 

Photos marked with  are believed to be in the Public Domain due of their age.

All other photos I have taken myself –  © Louise Shapcott