Madonna del Riparo

Let's visit, together, the churches

You are in: Home–› Monuments–› The churches–› Madonna del Riparo

The Church of Madonna del Riparo

The title Madonna del Riparo (of the Shelter) for Bronte is connected to a very painful event and reminds (or better, reminded as the ancient little church was demolished!) the protection of the Annunciated, patron saint of Bronte, towards the city, against the destructive fury of Etna.

With such title our ancestors from every quarter of the town used to invoke the Madonna during their needs and in the crucial moments of their tormented history.

In February 1651 a terrible eruption started in the direction of Bronte and remained active for three years. Destroyed a big part of the town and of its territory reaching even the Simeto river.

In 1654 the eruption regained strength and an arm of the lava ran over the high part of the town destroying many houses, reached the edge of Saint Antony church, got into the garden of the Capuchin fathers, built 25 years earlier, ran over the Purgatory's church and all the neighboring houses and burned the little church of Saint Nicolas which was rebuilt later.

The people of Bronte, praying day and night, ran into the Annunciated' church imploring help from the Virgin whose marble statue was put in front of the lava.

And, somehow, the lava swerved towards north forming a cordon of lava like a massive wall, as can still be seen, that goes from behind the Hospital down towards San Nicola and to the river.

The people of Bronte, for gratitude towards the Madonna, built under that massive wall a little church and called it "Madonna del Riparo" (of the shelter).

The old little church, of modest dimensions, about 60 square meters, once solitary and surrounded by trees and stony ground, with the sprawling of urban buildings came to be located at the center of a quarter which was growing ever more.

Because of its modest dimensions and of the many structural cracks due to weather and earthquakes, it was planned a restoration and an enlargement of the church in the same site, but the dean of the time, father Antonio Marcantonio, advised against restructuring of the old church as it was too close to the churches of the Capuchin fathers and S. Silvestro, and the quarter was growing more towards the Salice zone.

So it was the same dean that acquired new land nearby and engaged the Architect Dell'Erba to prepare a project for a new church. Was decided this way, in fact, after three centuries, the sale and the destruction of the ancient little church and of its testimony.

The 9th of July 1967, the archbishop of Catania Monsignor Bentivoglio, blessed the laying of the foundation stone and, being insufficient the financial resources on hand, started the construction of the church's first half.

Three years after, the 18th July 1970, still incomplete was open to the cult; the old statue of Madonna del Riparo, restored and followed by the clergy and the people entered the new church.

In 1971 father Napoli was officially entrusted as first parish priest of the new Madonna del Riparo parish. The church and its attached services were completed only in 1984.

From a historical point of view, today the new church, plain and not particularly interesting, stands on the same cordon of lava flown during the 1654 Etna eruption and on a panoramic position that makes it visible from every part of the town of Bronte.

Of the ancient «lonely Madonna del Riparo small church» (so the Radice used to call it) there is no trace left; Only some faded photos.
In its place was built a high and insignificant cement structure that has cancelled completely the ancient testimony and documentation of our past.

The Madonna del Riparo

(So wrote the Radice nel 1926)


The ancient and the new church of Madonna del Riparo and, to the left, the Madonna's statue and the interior of the old little church.


«The lonely small church of the Madonna del Riparo shall shortly find itself inside the habitat be­cause of the many new houses being built in the near areas.
Stands below the provincial road that goes to Maletto, near the Croce Salici, facing mount Etna. Would be hard to establish the exact time of its foundation but, I believe, could be after the 1651 eruption (...)

Three altars enrich the little church To the right, going in, the one of San Gaetano from Tiene, to the left, the one of saint Andrea Avellino. The major altar is dedicated to the Madonna del Riparo.

The small church, adorned by stucco work and gilded friezes, is pretty in its simplicity, Remarkable are eight frescoes to right the apparition of Jesus to the Virgin Mother, Jesus shows himself to his mother while an angel brings a basket of flo­wers, the Immaculate that was restored and ruined by a painter priest from Catania and the adora­tion of the Three Wise Men.

To the left first is the divine shepherdess, a wolf chases a sheep bleating -Ave Maria.- these words are written in a flourish coming out from the sheep's mouth, the Child pulls up with a little rope other sheep marked with the name of Maria that lays at Her feet, others lay resting in the shade.

The Virgin with her straw hat and the small rod has a very pretty pose, The apse is well decorated.» 

Translated by Sam Di Bella


HOME PAGEPowered by DLC for Associazione Bronte Insieme / Reproduction not permitted even if partial - Last adjournment: 04-2024