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The cathedral basilica of Maria Santissima delle Vittorie

The cathedral basilica of Maria Santissima delle Vittorie of Piazza Armerina is the cathedral of the diocese of Piazza Armerina, in Sicily and is dedicated to Maria Santissima delle Vittorie. In February 1962, Pope John XXIII elevated it to a minor basilica.

Aragonese period

Discovery of the image of the Madonna occurred during the plague epidemic of 1348. The episode is cloaked in mystery, dreams and revelations indicate the place where the banner is hidden. The rediscovered icon was transferred to the church of San Martino, the mother church of the time.

Primitive church

The construction in Catalan-Gothic style under the title of “Santa Maria Maggiore”, is a building enriched between the 1400s and 1500s by a mighty bell tower and a Gaginesque marble arch in the baptistery, an expression of the Sicilian Renaissance.

Spanish era

The temple was seriously damaged by an earthquake, probably the “Magnus Tremotus in terra Xiclis” of 1542.

By “maramma”, in the manner of those historically documented for the cathedrals of Palermo, Messina and Catania, we mean the «Fabbrica del Duomo.

After a further interruption of about forty years between 1666 and 1705, the structures of the cathedral were completed and only inaugurated in 1742.

The temple was elevated to a minor basilica by Pope John XXIII in February 1962.

The current cathedral, dominated by its 76.5 m high dome and has a diameter of 13.88 meters, the highest in Sicily, visible from the whole city, was begun in 1604, continued by the architect Orazio Torriani, completed in 1719, instead the bell tower, 40 meters high, in late Catalan Gothic style, dates back to the 15th century and is that of a previous church, in place of which the current cathedral was erected.

The portal, from the 18th century, has elements of Sicilian Baroque style.

The interior of the cathedral is dominated by the high central dome. From the triumphal arch hangs a large cross painted on both sides, bearing the depiction of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, a work of 1485 conventionally referred to the «Maestro della croce di Piazza Armerina», and a baptistery created by Antonuzzo Gagini in 1594.

The high altar in lapis lazuli, semi-precious stones and Sicilian marbles, with the floor and the balustrade of the apse, are made by the Palermitan master Filippo Pinistri based on a design by the architect Giuseppe Venanzio Marvuglia. The elevation includes the embossed silver case from 1625, which contains the image of Maria Santissima delle Vittorie, patron saint of the city and of the diocese, chiseled by the Caltagironese silversmith Giuseppe Capra in 1627, the manta in gold, silver and enamels to protect it, designed and created by the Palermo goldsmith don Camillo Barbavara. Behind the altar are the funeral monuments of Marco Trigona (1598) and Melchiorre Trigona (1637). On the back wall, two large windows with the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, in the center, in the upper window, the image of the Redeemer.

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