Lace Up

Yesterday, I discussed a church without a ceiling (Lo Spasimo in Palermo). Today, I show you a church with an unforgettable ceiling–the Chiesa Matrice, or Mother Church, of Erice. Outside, this Norman-era building that was first constructed starting in 1314 is modest, yet elegant. Inside, the vaulted, neo-Gothic ceiling that was reconstructed during the 19th…

Happy Name Day

January 20 is Saint Sebastian’s Day. I’d like to wish my friends named Sebastian and Sebastiano,  “Buon Onomastico!” In Italy, your name day, i.e., the feast day of the saint for whom you are named, is as important as your birthday. So, if you have a friend named Sebastian, wish him “Auguri di buon onomastico…

Sicily’s Sistine Chapel

The Chiesa di San Domenico in Castelvetrano in Trapani Province is a masterpiece. Originally built in the 1470s when commissioned by the Tagliavia family, the church gained spectacle status once artist Antonio Ferraro da Giuliana and his sons spent three years from 1577-1580 creating the stucco scene above the altar titled “Albero di Jesse,” or…

A Glimpse of Oratorio Santa Cita

The Oratorio di SS. Rosario in Santa Cita was built in the 1600s. Oratories were meeting halls of confraternities or religious societies. In Palermo, there are a number of oratories that were built in the Baroque era. The Oratorio di SS. Rosario in Santa Cita was decorated with the magnificent stucco-work of Giacomo Serpotta (1656-1732)….

Erythraean Sibyl

Throughout the ancient Mediterranean, sibyls–priestesses, prophetesses, and seers who were described as having healing powers inspired by Apollo–responded to faithful pilgrims’ requests for guidance and grace. These women were well-known for their work, attracting visitors from far and wide. The most famous is perhaps the Delphic Sibyl (at Delphi in Greece). The Cumaean Sibyl, who…

Giacomo’s Stucco

The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi in Palermo houses sculptor Giacomo Serpotta’s (1656-1732) stucco statues, each depicting one of ten of the 16 Franciscan Virtues–Humility, Compassion, Prayer, Faithfulness, Peacemaking, Modesty, Theology, Charity, Truth, Hospitality. Using a technique called allustsratura, Serpotta sculpted the statues in 1723. Can you guess which Virtue this statue represents?