Sicily

Day 5 - Churches to the north of the city walls


Two very different churches to the north of the city walls.


The CHURCH OF ST PANCRAS is below Porta Messina to the north of the city.

St Pancras or Pancrazio was a close associate of St Peter and became the first bishop of Taormina in around 40AD. He was stoned to death and is now the patron saint of the city. The church dates from the C17th and is set in an arcaded courtyard. It was built over the ruins of a C3rd BC Greek temple dedicated to the god Jupiter.

Built of Taormina stone the outside is plain apart from the west door with its marble columns and statues of St Pancras and Saint Procopius.

Church of St Pancras, Taormina

The inside of the church is quite light considering the only light is through the door and small windows at the base of the ceiling. The decoration is Baroque with decorative plasterwork and pillars.

Church of St Pancras, Taormina       Church of St Pancras, Taormina

The organ is in the gallery above the west door. Round the top of the walls is a shelf with small paintings and small urns.

Church of St Pancras, Taormina

There are marble altars along the walls with large paintings above. Between them are smaller paintings which have silver scones on the shelf.

Church of St Pancras, Taormina

Church of St Pancras, Taormina

There are elaborate marble memorials set in the nave floor.

Church of St Pancras, Taormina
 

There is a splendid Baroque marble altar. At the centre is a seated statue of St Pancras Above, in a small roundel is the Virgin MAry with the Christ Child surrounded by putti. At the top is God the Father.

Church of St Pancras, Taormina

On the left of the altar is a large painting showing St Pancras arriving in Naxos.

Church of St Pancras, Taormina

There seems to be some confusion about the picture to the right of the altar with the suggestion it is the martyrdom of St Pancras during a banquet.

Church of St Pancras, Taormina

The CHURCH OF THE CAPUCHINS is close to the Church of St Pancras, but architecturally is very different to it. The original church of St Catherine of Alexander had been built here around 1400. The church was sold to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin who arrived in Taormina in the mid C16th, who established a convent here. The convent was suppressed and the property confiscated in 1866. Part of it was used as a prison. The Antonine nuns took possession of the ex convent in 1902 and ran a kindergarten and middle school for girls living in their orphanage. The tall bell tower was built in 1932 replacing a smaller bell tower.

Church of teh Capuchins, Taormina

The interior of the church has preserved the simple style of a Capuchin building with a wall pulpit reached by stairs in the wall. Above the west door is a balcony reached by a spiral staircase. In front of the door is a painted wood screen.

Church of the Capuchins, Taormina

The east end is dominated by a wooden altar with massive wood reredos above it. This has a large painting of the Virgin and Child with her parents St Anne and St Joseph, on either side. Below are other saints including St Pancras, St Catherine, St Dominica and Francis of Assisi. The framed paintings on either side are of St Anthony of Padua and Saint Clare of Assisi, a follower of St Francis, who founded the Order of St Clare.

Church of the Capuchins, Taormina

There are small altars dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St Anthony of Padua set in recesses on the right wall.

Church of the Capuchins, Taormina

There are three small chapels set off the left wall. The first has a marble altar with massive wood reredos with the crucified Christ. On either side are the Virgin and St John.

Church of the Capuchins, Taormina

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