In ancient times, this site housed a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva.
In 1254, the Franciscan Order settled in Catania, near the Church of San Michele, adjacent to the Ursino Castle. In 1260, the Franciscan friars moved to the current place, where the old Church of Speranza stood.
In 1329, Eleanor of Anjou, Queen of Sicily and the wife of King Frederick II of Aragon, promoted the construction of a convent and church dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi. Eleanor of Anjou was buried here in 1343.
In 1693, the terrible eartquake of Val di Noto destroyed the church almost completely, and the structure was rebuilt in Baroque style in the following century.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The small churchyard is preceded by a staircase of Etna lava stone, with a wrought iron gate and a balustrade with four pillars that support the imposing statues of San Giuseppe da Copertino, Sant’Agata, Santa Chiara d’Assisi and San Bonaventura.
The facade of the church, built around 1854, is decorated by sixteen semi-columns, eight on each order, and three statues on the second order, depicting Saint Anthony of Padua to the left, the Immaculate Conception in the center, and Saint Francis of Assisi to the right.
The insignia of San Francesco is carved on the pediment of the facade. On the sides of the pediment, there are two quadrangular turrets surmounted by small domes on which iron weathervanes are planted.
The church has a Latin cross plan divided into three naves separated by six pillars. The stucco decorations were made by Giuseppe Gianforma, with the collaboration of his son Gioacchino.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Church of San Francesco d’Assisi all’Immacolata is located about 1.5 kilometers away from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop, San Martino Vittorio Emanuele II, is located about 130 meters away, on the bus Lines 632 and 642.