Together with the nearby Church of Santa Lucia Extra Moenia and the Convent of the Franciscan Friars Minor, the Church of Santa Lucia al Sepolcro is part of the sanctuary built on the site where the Saint was martyred in 304, during the persecution of the emperor Diocletian.
The Church of Santa Lucia al Sepolcro was built in 1629 on a project by the architect Giovanni Vermexio, on the site of an ancient church dedicated to Saint Agatha.
The works were interrupted when the Duke of Albuquerque considered that the building could represent, from a military point of view, the possible position for an artillery gun, in the event of a siege. The precise orders of the Duke determined the current layout of the church.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The church has the shape of an octagon, but only the four sides overlooking Piazza Santa Lucia have architectural decorations. The corners of the octagon are marked by counter-pillars crowned by Corinthian capitals enriched by exuberant decoration with shells and masks.
A large double flight staircase gives access to the church. The structure has four portals, but only two, the largest, can be used as entrances.
The interior, covered with a dome, has a single altar in correspondence with the sepulchral niche. The niche is embellished by a bas-relief depicting three fantastic animals of medieval origin, linked to the moral qualities of Saint Lucia – the griffin is a symbol of incorruption, the dove is a symbol of purity and the lion indicates courage.
The church houses the statue of Saint Lucia, sculpted by Gregorio Tedeschi in 1634. According to legend, in 1735, during the Spanish siege of the city, the statue miraculously perspired for 3 days, as a sign that the Saint was grieving for the local people. The rust stains on the statue are considered visible remnant of this phenomenon.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Church of Santa Lucia al Sepolcro is located in the Santa Lucia district, about 1.5 kilometers away from the Syracuse railway station. To find the church on foot, use the map below.