Curch of the Ss. Trinità

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Church of the SS. Trinità

The Matrice

Although it cannot be said with certainty that the church of SS. Trinità (commonly known as “La Matrice”) is the oldest church in Bronte, but it is certainly the largest and the most important and significant from an architectural but above all historical and documentary point of view.

It certainly doesn't have much that is exceptional from an artistic point of view but the countless traces, monuments, documents, furnishings and testimonies found in this place make it a mine of information that refers to the history and traditions of Bronte.

In this church ("Intus Ecclesiam majorem terre Brontis sub titulo S. Mariæ", as read in a public announcement dated 18 April 1554), in execution of Vice-royal Letters, the people of Bronte gathered at the ringing of the bell.

Much more than the other churches of Bronte, the Mother Church, as can also be seen from numerous plaques and tombstones, was built, embellished and adorned over the centuries by benefactors and patrons but also by simple farmers and shepherds who were certainly not wealthy.

«The small University of Bronte - writes the historian Benedetto Radice - although poor, contributed generously to the decoration of the new main church. In 1584 he spent 30 onze for the clock and 108 onze for the organ; he burdened his budget with 10 onze per year, which he later reduced to six onze, for the salary of the organist, that is, for any strummer called maestro di cappella.

In 1590 the jurors asked the viceroy to be authorized to spend on the factories of the mother church. In 1592 the canopy for the SS was bought. Sacrament. On 21 November 1623 the viceroy confirmed the sum of 50 onze for a large bell, which the first one had broken and to buy a harpsichord. In 1645 he assigned snow fines for the purchase of sacred furnishings to the benefit of the church... ».

For all this, with the indispensable help of Radice's writings and other testimonies, we must and want to dedicate much more space and attention to the Mother Church (or, better, as it is commonly called, to the Matrix) than other churches or monuments in Bronte .

In the 18th century, La Matrice was one of the few in the Diocese of Catania with the special statute of a parish and a perpetual parish priest and was also the only parish in Bronte until 20 November 1723 (when the church of the Rosario joined it as a branch).
It therefore also represents an inexhaustible source of data and information; here is preserved the only historical-registry archive (the so-called revelations) of the population (the "civilian" one, of the Municipality, was burned by the rioters in the well-known events of 1860), the baptisms, marriages, deaths of thousands of Brontes since since the end of the 1500s.

Single and isolated is located in the via Matrice, sloping slightly on lava rocks (still visible on the right side and on the back).
It was built with the name of Church Of The SS. Trinità in the first half of the XVI° century with the fusion of two ancient churches: that of Santa Maria (the biggest and the most ancient) and that of the SS. Trinità.

The traces of the ancient buildings are still well visible, referable to the two churches Santa Maria and SS. Trinità, before their fusion:

  on the northern wall, stand out the corner of the ancient church and a Gothic door, composed of limestone ashlars and surmounted by a mask representing a human face;

  the buttress of the wall is clearly outlined, to the North side;

  inside, on the right and left side coming in from the major door, were brought to light some columns, the floor and other architectural elements in limestone, referable to the ancient church of Santa Maria;


In the two photos below some tra­ces of the ancient edifices visible externally on the south wall: a door con architrave and semi columns of greenish stone, already flaked by time. The church does not have ar­chi­tectural and decorative chara­cters such to attribute a stylistic absolute definition, but over the plastered surfaces leap a few ele­ments which, without a shadow of doubt, define it as one  of the con­stru­ction, pre­sent  in Bronte, endo­wed with major vetustà (venerabi­lity due to age).

  on the southern wall, are visible a door with architrave and semi-columns of greenish stone, already flaked by the time (can be red only a few words) and some Gothic little windows to glimmer, in sandstone, like the ones in the Benedictine Abbey of Maniace.

The joining of the two churches of Santa Maria and SS. Trinità did not happen in the same period:

  the pronao with the preacher's quartierino, the columns and the architrave of the major door date 1575, few years after the forced joining of the farmhouses in Bronte, ordered by Carlo v (1535);

  the bell tower was completed in 1579,

  the vaults in the XVIII century,

  the two wonderful baroque altars of the crucifix and the purgatory in 1655

The bell tower

The construction of the bell tower began around 1579, but the work was slow.

Two years later Mons. Ludovico Torres, archbishop of Monreale on whom Bronte depended at the time, during one of his visits ordered the recovery of "the inheritance of Francesco Cariola left to the mother church, having first paid his debts to his wife Angila.
And the money owed by the "University" should be collected to be used in the construction of the bell tower, which will be completed as soon as possible...».

Restored in 1780 ("Michael Aidala refecit et dealbavit", Michele Aidala restored and whitewashed) it has its own stylistic and volumetric autonomy and with its massive proportions gives impetus to the whole.
It has a powerful structure, highlighted by the corner pilasters made of squared lava stone, by the crenellated crown and by the spire with an octagonal base.

Three projecting stone windowsill markers divide the plastered bottom of the four façades and highlight the impost of the round-vaulted single-lancet windows.
A Ghibelline battlement with a pyramidal cusp with an octagonal base concludes the roof of the bell tower with a crown typical of all Bronte's towers.

Inside of the church

there isn't a precise architectural style and is extremely simple but also interesting enough.
Has a longitudinal shape to Latin cross, with two lateral naves and one central, four side chapels and two at the end, an apse chorus, a wooden chorus, with inlayed wooden benches.

The central nave is supported by twelve columns made of sandstone with capitals, subsequently increased with consolidation masonry (two of them collapsed in the earthquake of 1818).
The arcades of the ancient twelve columns are round arched. Entering the church from the major door it is possible to see how originally the columns had been.

Here were brought to light a few columns, the floor and other architectural elements in limestone of the original building. The three naves belonged to the ancient church of Santa Maria, the transept, the major chapel and the two sides, to the old church of the SS. Trinità.

The transept is contained in the short sides by two wonderful baroque altars of the Crucifix (2) and the Purgatory (1)(restored in 1892).

The vaults replace the original wooden trusses. The first chapel, to the right coming in (8) is dedicated to San Biagio (patron saint of Bronte), the second (6) to the Addolorata with the statues of the Madonna (every Venerdì Santo - holy Friday - is taken in procession after the statues of Christ to the Column, the crucifix and Christ dead).

The first left chapel is dedicated to Jesus' Heart (7), with a small mausoleum in marble of the dean Vincenzo Uccellatore and (to the right) the picture of the Buon Pastore (Good Shepherd), work of the brontese Agostino Attinà (1880).

Comes then the chapel of the apostles Pietro and Paolo (5).

To the right of the chorus that of S. Maria of the Candelora or the Purification (4), first half of the XVII century.

To the left, the chapel of the SS. Sacrament (3), already in existence since 1574, taken with two frescos by the brontese Nunziato Petralia (1895) which represents a fasting mule that refuses to eat its fodder for three days and stands in adoration in front of the sacrament from S. Antonino and the count Rodolfo degli Asburgo who gives his own horse to a priest that is taking the Last Sacraments to a very ill person.


The apse part of the church, built during the first half of the XVI° century with the fusion of the two pre-existing churches: Santa Maria and SS. Trinità).
The plasters and the gilding inside show up, the modular structure of the hanging arches that hold the big cen­tral nave and the ancient mechanical organ. The Grieved Ma­don­na statue, very worshipped by the faithful Bronte's peo­ple, is kept in this church.

The central nave and the chorus with the benches wor­ked to inlays. Entering the church from the major door it is possible to see how originally the columns had been. Here were brought to light a few columns, the floor and other architectural elements in limestone of the original building.

The Baptismal font
Here very many generations of Bronte’s people have received their christening as the Main Church already in the 18th century was one of the few, in the Catania Diocese, to be a parish church with a perpetual parish priest.

When the Municipal Archive was burned down, during the riots of 1860, the books of the Main Church became the only source of news related to the population.

In the apse is noticed the wall wooden structure of the chorus with the benches worked to inlays and the equipment of the mechanical organ.

On the walls of the side naves lay some mausoleums of illustrious brontesi, among which stand out, in the left nave, the ones of the bishop Monsignor Giuseppe Saitta and of the don Nicola Spedalieri (1741 -1831).

Church's map (only in italian)

Translated by Sam Di Bella ITALIAN VERSION


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