Madonna Annunziata Sanctuary

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Madonna Annunziata Sanctuary

The common identity of the Bronte people

"Maria SS. Annunziata" sanctuary, patron with San Biagio of Bronte, is one of the most ancient religious monuments of the town. It is placed in the western margin of the town, in the lower part of the ancient old city center bound by the main road which gets down towards the Sciarotta area.

Joins in a wonderful image the solid expressiveness of the complex and the innovative strength of the architectural elements of Renaissance inspiration.

The buildingg

The building certainly dates long before the joining of the 24 set­tlements (wanted by Carlo V in 1535): the big bell, in fact, shows the date of 1535 (the wor­ding says "Antoninus Sagla I fecit, MCCCCCXXXV"), and the church already appears in the matrimonial registers of 1505.

It is not possible, however, establishing what the original outside structure of the church, was, only the Christ's chapel and the column makes you think that could be part of the primitive building.

At the time of the transfer and unification of the farmhouses (1535 -- 1548), the churchwas, according to what the historian brontese Benedetto Radice writes ("Historical memories of Bronte"), was reconstructed and enlarged and, after the arrival of the statues of the Annunciated around 1543, the rising new town was put under the protection of the Madonna Annunziata, giving the inhabitants of the old farmhouses a new common identity.

Monsignor Ludovicus de Torres, the bishop of Monreale whoch visited Bronte in 1574, wrote to have found "altar decenter ornatum" and praised "illum (the substitute of the church, Don Antonio Ciraldo) et confrates (the confraternity of the Madonna Annunziata) et monuit to perfectionem novae fabricae".

Almost fifty years later, in 1625, the bell tower was built (the original door was where the altar of the Natività is found, now to the right coming in).

The façade of the sanctuary was completed in 1631, and few years later, (in 1651) the canopy truss was installed, as it reads on the beam near the chorus.

The chorus and the dome were added in 1811.

The outside

The outside of the church, for the drawing of the bases and openings of the bell tower powerful structure, feels considerably of some architectural conceptions and local constructive techniques.

On the principal façade stand out the portal and the window with tympanum, that under the windowsill shows the date of 1631 (date of completion).
The jambs and the sandstone gable of the door, even though flaked away by time, still present very clearly the simple drawing of flower patterns and figures of little angels and demons in bas-relief that adorn them.

The fresco of the lunette above the door remembers the transport and the arrival, on the church's square, of the two statues by Gagini on a cart trained by oxen.
Around the lunette you can read the inscription "B.M.V. hujus civitatis Patronae principalis restauratum vetustissimum monumentum mirae traslationis simulacres".

Of particular beauty is the bell tower, of 1625, with cusps and of massive proportions, that gives prominence to the set and is characterized by the showy ashlared pillars and the crenellated crown.

The church built in masonry of lava stones, has an hemispheric dome to pointed arch with lantern and wooden trusses on the cabin roof, the ante-chorus and the square presbytery is at only one nave.



La Nuova identità

L'alto volere della Corte aveva
messo i Casali in movimento verso
quella unìone che vedeva in Bronte il
      centro vitale.

Poveri alloggi in miseri rioni, 
dava ciascuno lustro ad una chiesa
ove sperava ritrovar la propria

Tutti i quartieri però ravvisàro
nell'Annunziata qualcosa in comune,
onde donàro lavoro e denaro in
      gara d'amore.

Quando tra luci e splendore miràro i
rudi pastori la Vergine Santa e
l'Angel celeste, rapito sentìro
      l'essere tutto.

Videro genti, di fiducia colme,
d'ogni Casale colà convenire e
ricuperare nuova una comune

da Borgonovo porta una vedova i
segni di cruda violenza subìta,
mentre le bande scorazzano ancora
      libere ovunque;

da Castellàci migrata una donna
quivi conduce tre figli consunti
dalla malarìa e fidente li affida
      alla Madonna;

capitan pure certi che la lava
dalle lor case aveva dispersi
alla ricerca di nuova dimora in
      sede tranquilla;

da carestia afflitti non pochi
vengon ploranti con calore a chiedere il 
sole o la pioggia perchè le campagne
      hanno cuor duro:

sostan qui tutti, riprendon vigore e
una speranza, apparsa svanita,
che fondamento terreno non ha, ma
      solo divino.

Extract from the poem “The Annunciate” that Pasquale Spanò wrote in 1966 (Etnei, Turin, 1993). Tells the legend of the “barter” and the “journey” of the Annunciate statue to Bronte and of the common “new identity” that the inhabitants of the 24 Settlements found in their Protector.

Sanctuary of  Maria SS Annunziata:
particulars of the principal façade of the church.

In the lunette is told the traditional legend of the transport of the two statues (the Virgin and Angel) on a wagon towed by oxen.

The façade of the sanctuary was completed in 1631.

Particulars of the powerful stru­cture of the bell tower (1625) and of the very beau­tiful Church Of The Annun­ziata. The districts names scul­ptu­red in bronze relief, of the 24 far­mhouses,  that were uni­ted in the ancient Bronte by order of Carlo V, found in the Madonna Annun­ziata, their protector, a new "com­mon identity". The door is work of  Mimmo Girbino.

The Annunciate Sanctuary on RAI Television

Sunday 10th of March Rai television has broadcasted, in direct from the Sanctuary and by satellite, the mess celebrated by the archbishop of Catania mons Bommarito. It was an exceptional occasion that has allowed millions of people to see and appreciate in a prestigious way the city of Bronte and the harmony and the beauty of our ancient Santuary.

The portal

Some of the sand stone portal’s par­ti­culars (certainly one of the church most ancient part). Though flaked by time, the jambs and the pediment still show clearly the simple flower pat­tern design and the figures of an­gels and demons that decorate them.


Church's map (only in italian)

Translated by Sam Di Bella ITALIAN VERSION


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