The history of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta is linked to that of the Benedictine Monastery of Santa Maria, which according to tradition was built in the 12th century, on the occasion of the arrival in Positano of the Byzantine icon of the Madonna.
However, the monastery was founded earlier, in the second half of the 10th century, and was mentioned for the first time in a manuscript dated back to the end of the 11th century.
The monastery was renowed until the middle of the 15th century, when the monks, perhaps frightened by the raids of the pirates from Cilento, abandoned it. After a few years, the church was entrusted to the commendatory abbot Nicola Miroballi, later elected archbishop of Amalfi.
With some exceptions, the period of the commendatory abbots was disastrous for the church. The architectural traces of the monastery were gradually lost, while the church deteriorated profoundly. In the early years of the 17th century, the church was subjected to a reconstruction comissioned by the abbot Pirro Giovanni Campanile.
In 1777, the local clergy deprived the last commendatory abbot, Liborio Marra, of his function, and started a new restoration of the church. The works lasted about five years, and on August 10, 1783, the archbishop Antonio Puoti consecrated the church.
In the 19th century, the stuccos and gilding were restored, and other interventions were made in 1982, to adapt the church to the needs of the liturgical reform desired by the Second Vatican Council.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The interior of the church has a nave and two aisles, with five arches, corresponding to five chapels on each side. On the sides of the apse, there is the choir in solid walnut, with the majestic mechanical organ inaugurated in 2000. On the right, a small room houses a beautiful baptismal font.
The Byzantine icon of the Madonna of Positano stands above the main altar of the church. To the right of the main altar, there is the chapel of Saint Stephen, inside which is kept the 18th-century wooden statue of the Madonna with Child. In the transept, to the right, there is the altar of the Circumcision with a beautiful painting by Fabrizio Santafede dated 1599.
A few steps from the church stands the bell tower, rebuilt in 1707 by an unknown Capuchin friar. Above the door of the bell tower is a medieval bas-relief depicting a pistrice (a sea monster) and a plaque placed in 1902 in memory of Flavio Gioia of Positano, the legendary inventor of the compass.
HOW TO GET THERE
The church is near the Marina Grande Beach, about 700 meters from the Sita Sud bus stop located at the crossroads of Via Cristoforo Colombo and Via Guglielmo Marconi. To find the church on foot, use the map below.