The major church of Termini Imerese is called “Matrice di San Nicola di Bari”, mostly also known as “Il Duomo”. The curch is settled, for istance, in Piazza Duomo, in the upper part of the town.

The History

The building of the church started in the earlys of 1600; it was not built “ex novo”, it was raised on an area which used to be occupied by another building already, the “Santa Maria La Vecchia” church, whom was on the same area where the ancient Stenio’s house was found; Stenio was a distinguished figure in Termini Imerese, during the first century b.C.

For instance, the new church was named “Santa Maria La Nova”, to recall the old church. Inside the new church are still preserved the originals statues realized by the artist Giuliano Mancino, representing San Giovanni Battista, San Pietro Apostolo and San Giacomo Maggiore. Therefore some copies of these statues have been realized and since 1912 they are exposed on the front of the church, together with the statue of Beato Agostino Novello, the patron of the city, which was built by the sculptor from Termini Imerese, Filippo Sgarlata.

The church with its treasures inside

The Duomo presents a latin cross plan, divided into three naves. These naves are full of pictorial decorations, painted by different artists. The central nave was decorated by the sicilian artist Giuseppe di Garbo, who represented the the twelve apostles on the walls above the wooden choir of the central apse and the four evangelists on the sails of the dome. The side aisles are home to several statues, made by artists such as Giorgio da Milano, Bartolomeo Berrettaro and the aforementioned Giuliano Mancino. Let’s look at them closely:

The left nave

  • CHAPEL OF THE BAPTISTERY : It is placed on the left nave, it has two marble statues , which one is the baptisimal font, dating back to the XVIII century, which is still today used for the baptesimal ritual.
  • THE CHAPEL OF JESUS’S HEART: It is present a marble altar and
    a statue representing Jesus’ heart.
  • THE SANTA MARIA LA NOVA’S CHAPEL: It is one of the richest
    from an iconic point of view. It has the name of the old church which
    used to be there and a statue of Mary with the baby Jesus is dedicated
    to it. Also St. Giovanni Battista, St. Nicola and St. Girolamo are
    painted on the base of the altar; on the front wall there are four statues
    of St. Pietro, St. Paolo, St. Giacomo and St. Giovanni Battista, in
    order to decor the statue of Mary
  • THE ST. BARTOLOMEO’S CHAPEL: There is a canvas depicting the
    Apostle Bartolomeo and two statues, one of St. Giacomo and one of
    St. Biagio.
  • THE MADONNA OF THE ROSARY’S CHAPEL: The principal
    attraction is a wonderful Rosario Vesco’s canva, dated back to 1756,
    which represents the Madonna of the Rosary between the saints
    Domenico and Rosalia. Also, on the fringes of the curtain are depicted
    the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.
  • THE CHAPEL OF THE CRUCIFIX: Its name comes from the
    presence of a crucifix of valuable wooden manufacture and beautiful
    mirrors designed with geometric patterns adorn the cross.
  • LEFT TRANSEPT: Here we find a marble masterpiece of
    seventeenth-century matrix, rich in floral representations, sorrounding
    the statue of l’Immacolata, consisting of marble painted with gilt
    friezes.

The right nave

  • CHAPEL BONAFEDE: Moving to the right aisle, this is the first
    chapel right next to the sacristy.
  • THE ST. IGNAZIO’S CHAPEL: It is dedicated to Ignazio from
    Lojolo, the Saint is painted in two different canvas, one on the left
    wall, dating back to the XVIII century, and then on a canva up on the
    altar, realized by Filippo Randazzo in 1741.
  • THE HOLY FAMILY’S CHAPEL: A valuable marble sculpture of
    the Virgin Mary, made by the first mentioned Giorgio from Milano in
    1487, is at the center of attention in the chapel.
  • CHAPEL OF THE CUSTODY OF THE IMMACULATE: It is kept
    the wooden Mary’s statue in here, realized by Quattrocchi in 1799.
    This is a characteristic icon of the city. As a matter of fact, on the
    morning of December 8, the statue is taken out of the chapel and the
    church in a procession with thousands of faithful in tow and placed in
    another church in the city. Given the importance of the sculpture, it is
    kept in a marble case with columns, putti and angels painted
    valuable.
  • THE ST. FILIPPO NERI’S CHAPEL: We can find here a painting
    from the 1626 representing the Saint with a a white marble medallion
    that in high relief represents Maria SS. called “del Ponte” because
    previously this medallion was placed on the bridge of the river Torto.
  • THE CHAPEL OF NATIVITY: Inside this chapel there are various
    representations of the Nativity, in different materials. Baby Jesus is
    realized in pottery, while Mary and St. Joseph are made of papiermache.
    There are also two other Nativity’s canvas from the XVIII
    century.
  • THE RIGHT TRANSEPT: This murble altar from the 1600s is dedicated to St.
    Nicola from Myra. On the side walls there are three canvas dated back to the
    1700 representing scenes from Beato Agostino’s life and the Four Crowned
    Saints.

The Apsis

  • THE CENTRAL APSIS: It includes the the wooden choir made by
    Lorenzo Lodato in 1793 and along the walls are painted the twelve
    apostles by Giuseppe Di Garbo. At the bottom of the central apse is
    exposed the wooden cross painted in 1484 by Pietro Ruzzolone,
    which represents in one facade Jesus Christ died on the cross and on
    the other the Risen Lord. This double valence is used during the
    Easter period by using one facade in the days corresponding to the
    death of Christ and the other in the following days, when he is risen.
  • THE RIGHT APSIS: It contains the body and relics of Beato Agostino
    Novello, of the Saints Basilia and Candida and of San Calogero.
  • THE LEFT APSIS: It encloses the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament,
    decorated in white marble, where are set five magnificent reliefs
    made by Giuseppe Siragusa.

Bibliografia:

“A spasso con Stenio” di Manuela Sinatra e Barbara Indorante

“La maggior chiesa di Termini Imerese. Percorso storico-artistico.”

Sitografia: https://beniambientalieculturaliimeresi.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/duomo-di-san-nicola-di-bari/

Immagini: Gentilmente concesse da Roberto Tedesco

Revisione: Gentilmente realizzata da Manuela Sinatra

Traduzione: Gentilmente realizzata da Giulia Ceraulo

di Francesco Marramaldo