Church of the Soccorso

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Maria SS. del

The Maria SS. del Soccorso (of Rescue) church of probable medieval origin, is placed at the center of the most ancient part of Bronte (among the popular quarters of Soccorso and Baracche, so called as the inhabitants of the various farmhouses raised there their modest little houses after the Joining of the Casali ordered by Carlo V in the 1535 or because of earthquakes).

Is remembered as the first parish church (this supremacy is however contested by the lovers of native history which award it to the Matrice).

Dedicated to the Madonna Of Soccorso ("help") and put also under the protection of other Saints, as San Placido of whom preserves the relics, in the tradition of the faithful, it is still commonly indicated as Church Of Soccorso or Santa Lucia.

The historic reasons of this double denomination are found in a book of the church accounts where in a "Avvertimento" ("Warning"), preserved in the Archives of the Capizzi College, is asserted that originally had been built very close to an ancient chapel dedicated to Santa Lucia, and that subsequent enlargement have then incorporated in the original structure

The church during the centuries underwent several restorations and remaking.

A first intervention, going up again to the XV century, before the joining of the 24 farmhouses, had lengthened the body of the church and incorporated the contiguous Chapel Of Santa Lucia alongside which the first church had been built. It is also owed to this period. the remaking of the principal door [on the gable is engraved the date of 1569 (I.5.LX.V.IIII)].

The sandstone columns of the ogival ancient door of pre-Romanesque style were used for the building of an arch to the entry of the annexed chapel dedicated to Santa Lucia.

The bell tower


The bell tower rises slightly over the adjacent buildings. But the belfry emerges with four arched openings framed with lava stone. Over the crowning, stand out four stone merlons and in the center rises an impressive, pyramidal cusp.

The bell tower was begun towards the year 1580 (the biggest bell dates) and probably in that period there was a new church lengthening in the part that today which constitutes the apse. Of the primitive structure remained only the ogival side door, the one light windows up to roof level and the niches of the altars bent towards the outside.

The new widening and the building of the bell tower caused the rearrangement of the inside which, in the same period, was adorned of those frescos rediscovered during a restoration of 1984. What remains, even in the gaiety of the colors and drawings, highlights with simplicity and immediacy a Paleo-Christian character with tales of exemplary lives and of martyrs.

During a last renovation, between 1780 and 1788, the outside architecture of the church was completely drawn again giving new forms to the building, cleaner and regular.

The architecture of nineteenth-century style, from the clean and linear forms, was hiding, and partly still hides, the signs of remaking that have cancelled the primitive ancient structure.

The inside of the church

The inside of the church today is a rectangular hall with chorus (on the entry) and apse, articulated by the minor altars.

At the entry a big arch supports the chorus vault. On the side walls the niches of the minor altars alternate between the pillars and show above a lunetted double shutter frame. To the right there are the altars of S. Placido, of Maria SS. of the Soccorso, of S. Francesco; to the left those of Santa Lucia, and the Crucifix.

Above the major altar, the most ancient, the picture of the Visitation of unknown author of Palermo (gift of the Venerable Ignazio Capizzi). 


The right side of the church testifies all the transformations made on the original building. Well ma­de is the entry portal in lava stone, work of local stone cutters school.

In the pictures: the inside of the church with the wooden ceiling rebuilt in 1970, a view of the san­dstone arch that takes to the chapel with the organ of 1847, the wooden statue of San Francesco di Paola, and some particulars of the right wall where recently have been found and restored some very ancient frescos.

in italian


Translated by Sam Di Bella


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