In the early Christian centuries, a small church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built on the site of an ancient pagan temple dedicated to Proserpina. In the Byzantine era, the church was called Madonna dell’Elemosina.
The church was rebuilt in the early 18th century, like most of the city of Catania, destroyed by the terrible earthquake of 1693.
In 1896, Giuseppe Sciuti frescoed the vault and the dome of the church with various paintings of the Blessed Virgin Mary, angels and saints.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The project of the church is attributed to Angelo Italia, an Italian architect who lived in the 17th century, who changed the orientation of the building, in order to have it facing the Via Etnea. The facade, designed by Stefano Ittar, is a beautiful example of the Sicilian Baroque.
The facade has two orders, with six stone columns on the first order, surmounted by a balustrade. On the second order, there is a central window and four large statues of Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Agatha and Saint Apollonia. On top of the second order, there is a beautiful bell-gable. The church is accessed via a large staircase, on which there is a wrought iron gate.
The interior has a basilical plan with three naves, delimited by eight pillars, and three apses. In the right aisle, there is the baptistery and three altars with paintings representing Saint Apollonia and Saint Euplio by Olivio Sozzi, and a Martyrdom of Saint Agatha by Francesco Gramignani. At the end of the nave, is the altar of the Immaculate, protected by a marble balustrade, on which a marble statue of the Madonna is placed.
In the apse of the central nave, is the high altar with an icon of the Madonna and Child. Behind the main altar, there is a wooden organ from the 18th century. Also in the central nave, we can find a wooden choir with 36 stalls, and two paintings by the painter Giuseppe Sciuti.
In the left aisle, in the apse, is the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, with a marble altar. Further on, there are three other altars with paintings representing Saint John of Nepomuk, the Holy Family and Saint Francis de Sales.
HOW TO GET THERE
Basilica della Collegiata is located about 1.3 kilometers from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is Mobile 1, located about 90 meters away, on the bus Line 504M.