The Church of Madonna del
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.
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.
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).
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
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
decided this way, in fact, after three centuries, the sale
and the destruction of the ancient little church and of
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 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.