Madonna Annunziata Sanctuary

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Madonna Annunziata Sanctuary

The church's inside

The sanctuary dedicated to Maria SS. Annunziata is built in lava stone masonry, a big hemispheric dome has a pointed arch with lantern and the gable roof with wooden trusses.

The inside of the church has one only nave, it has eight altars and two chapels, one in front of the other, a square presbytery ante-chorus, and, at the end of the chorus, one astonishing altar, (of the same sandstone as the entry door), which contains the statues of the Madonna and the angel.

Masterpieces of inestimable value are kept in the church: worthy works of Renaissance taste to be signaled among the artistically most beautiful expressions in Sicily.

The nave, with polychrome coffered ceiling with gildings, is surmounted by the entries of two chapels dedicated to Christ at The Column and San Giuseppe.

The transept of square plant which precedes the chorus is surmounted by a circular finestrato (window set)  on which the dome is erected.

The big arches of the chapels and the altars, which symmetrically adorn the walls, are enriched by plastic ornaments; the altars adorned with beautiful pictures. Coming in, from the right, we find the altar of the Jesus' Nativity, (where once was the door of the bell tower), the one of San Martino di Tours with a very beautiful painting; the chapel of the Christ alla Colonna and the altar of S. Ignazio of Lojola, with the eighteenth-century statue.

To the left there is the altar of the Madonna delle Grazie, (the picture of 1646, is attributed to Giuseppe Tomasio), that of Jesus and Maria, the San Giuseppe chapel and the San Michele Archangel altar with an elegant arch of baroque style.

At the end of the chorus stands the mayor altar dedicated to the Annunciated.

The Chapel of Cristo alla Colonna opens with a travertine arch all in gilded bas-relief and differently colored, with the pediment surmounted by three spires worked to flower patterns.

Vases with several friezes and flowers on the inside and outside adorn the columns; those of the base to the right are supported by winged lions, those to left by animals with sphinx face, rather than lions.

The travertine arch, very beautiful work of art of the Renaissance, is placed in the room of the big entry to the chapel, which makes presume that it was taken there and raised afterwards.

In the niche of the chapel is found the statue of Cristo alla Colonna, which, according to some people, was taken from the church of the SS. Christ, above San Vito, buried by the lava.
The tradition says that it is the work of a brontese shepherd. 

The statue, in paper-pulp, shows Christ in natural size, with hands tied to the back, bound to a column, the bleeding body covered with sores and the face expressing human pain.

The work evokes with great realism the drama of the passion; every year, on Venerdì Santo (Holy Friday), it is taken on to a very heavy wooden frame in procession; he precedes all the other statues: the Crucifix, Christ Dead and the Grieved Lady.

The Annunciated

The Annunciated ext to the chapel is found a rectangular wooden little balcony supported by big corbels to the altar and, on the left, a wooden pulpit with canopy.


The nave, with polychrome coffered ceiling with gil­dings, and the transept with the altar and the statue of the Madonna.
In the two photos on the left another view of the interior of the church and the elegant baroque arch that frames the altar of San Michele Arcangelo.

The statue of Christ at the Column, preserved in the homonymous chapel of the Annunziata Church. In the annual Good Friday procession, it is traditionally adorned with the first products of the earth. In the photo on the right the statue of St. Michael the Archangel.

Inside the church, on the greater altar, surmounted by a travertine (1549) arc, is placed the Annunciazione (marble group of the Annunciated virgin and the Angel Gabriel by Antonio Gagini), to which the brontese people are devoutly bound by feelings of ancient and deep religiousness.

The Annunciation by the Gagini is work of big value: it is inserted in the Renaissance artistic vein that, in the Gagini school, melt with new forms of Tuscan and Roman mannerism.

The two figures of the Virgin and the announcer angel compose an animated set with alive, spiritual tension. The high bodies, of exquisite proportions, vibrate inside the garments from the fluent drapery to their movements. The Virgin's  face of young girl expresses reverence and anxiety, while Gabriel, lightly genuflect, looks at her with eyes full of admiration.

The statues were commissioned by the noble Niccolò Spitaleri, on behalf of the brontese citizens, to the sculptor of Palermo Antonio Gagini, with a deed drawn by the Notary Dimitri Of Palermo of January 21st, 1540 (XIII Indizione).

Their cost was 48 onzes and they were delivered to  Bronte few years later, in 1543, taken through the woods of the Etna on a wagon towed by oxen.

About the Annunziata Virgin the popular fantasy created several legends. One tells that: «Was bartered by Greek pirates to a few brontese shepherds with a quantity of albaggio» (a coarse drape which, until some century ago, was still woven in Bronte by the monks of the Grangia della Ricchisgia.
«These shepherds asked a gentleman for a pair of bulls to transport the two statues to Bronte. He gave them two wild, indomitable bulls, which to the sight of the Virgin bowed and became mild and subdued: Along the journey the trees of the forest were moving away to the passage of the wagon. Arrived to Bronte the bulls did a turn and marked the site where the magnificent temple had to rise». (Benedetto Radice, "Churches, convents, public buildings in Bronte ", 1923)

«The church is really facing mount Etna. It seemed to the brontese folks that an arcane voice had gone out from Maria's lips saying : Brons civitas mea dilecta protegam you semper». (Gesualdo De Luca, "History of the Bronte town ", Milan 1883).


The Bronte's people were always very devotional to their patron Maria Santissima Annunziata, to which many times they turned in prayers so that she could sooth the destructive fury of Etna. The inhabitants of all the town quarters, in every necessity and crucial moments of their tormented history (famines, plagues, risings, political upheavals) have always run to the Annunziata.

Since 1821, in August, with big fervor and participation, the statues has been taken in procession for the streets of the town on a wagon towed by oxen. Especially touching the performance of the Annunciazione ("a burata 'el' Angiru"): the statues (Mary and the Angel) are placed at the center of  Piazza Spedalieri and a child, dressed as the angel Gabriel, reaches them from a high building running along a steel cable anchored at two palaces, to announce to Mary the miracle of Christ's conception.
In the church of the SS. Annunziata two threads of braided hair with threads made of gold are kept and still worshipped as tradition says that they belong to the Madonna and given to the brontese people in 1642 («'u santu capillu»).

Church's map (only in italian)

Translated by Sam Di Bella

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