Such modifications upset the environmental relationship between the church
and the urban context even if the building, on whose right side the
monument "ai Caduti" (to the fallen) was recently laid, remained however
the principal architectural element characterising the plaza.
out and characterise the outside of the church a big buttress
wall in masonry set on the right side and, on via Garibaldi, a
cylindrical lantern with blind apertures, placed above the covering
of the chapel of S.Benedetto.
The form and the function recall analogous elements of Byzantine
Simple the portal in lava stone with jambs and cornices of
The original internal aspect of the church underwent big renovations
in 1828: gone were the joyous decorations in first-quality gold and
the trussed roof which was replaced, almost in full, with the
current vault covering covering some traces of the old cantors'
The church is of rectangular shape with apse; in its inside
can be observed the decorations of gilt diamonds of the ceiling of
nave and apse and the alternate motif of arches and pilasters just in bas-relief which pronounce the flat side walls.
It has seven altars, a cantors' zone (in which can be still
admired what is left from the original wooden ceiling) and an ancient
organ not functioning anymore.
The central altar, to the left, contains, between two tortile columns,
a painting by G.Tommasio of 1664 that represents San Benedetto surrounded by other saints (San Placido and Santa Geltrude to his left
and Santa Scolastica and San Mauro to his right); (below to the left,
there is portrayed the first mother superior of the monastery).
The most beautiful picture is that of the communion of Santa Maria
Egiziaca, whose original, by Novelli, is exposed in the national
museum of Palermo.
In the vault
there is a fresco of the 1826 with the Engagement Of The Virgin
painted by the brontese Giuseppe Dinaro (2.5.1795 -- 7.31.1848).
Above, between the two gratings of the chorus, there is a picture
representing the sacrifice of Noah coming out of the ark.
Of good school is the picture of Jesus' Supper placed in a side little
room of the church.
The Holy Inquisition in Bronte
historian Benedetto Radice writes that in the
XVI° century, under the Spanish rule,
Holy Inquisition was present in force even in Bronte, where a
general commissary and "eight familiares", eight, suitably
named cops or ministers, had the task to control and denounce the
Of the people of Bronte prosecuted by the Sant' Office, besides the
rural Antonino Gorgone,
nicknamed Galluzzo and Tommaso Schiros,
eloquent orator, theologian and writer, that, accused of heresy, was
sentenced to four years of jail, deserves to be remembered also sister
Frances Spitaleri Bertino of the Tertiary of S.
Francesco, now completely forgotten.
Of high culture, she wrote religious works and had holiness
reputation; some people were saying that she had received Christ's
stigmata and that she talked to God and to the angels in her
Accused of heresy, had a first sentence (1621); "...to
escape the stake, abjured and was sent for seven years to serve in a
Subsequently, considered a heretical impenitent, was
submitted to a new process and sent to jail in Palermo".
The poor woman, foreseeing the most varied
punishments and the sentence to the stake, tried to escape from the
jail and a night of the September 1640 she lowered herself down with
a bad rope, made with the wool of her mattress.
The rope broke and the poor nun found a cruel death falling heavily
to the ground.
"Despite this, the process went on just
the same"; they confiscated her possessions, condemned her
memory and burned her body and her writings.
"One ignores why
and to whom the innocuous little nun of Bronte could have been
dangerous, to the point to undergo such an obstinate persecution and
such atrocious end".
The Sister Frances vicissitude is resumed also
by the poet and essayist brontese Pasquale Spanò
in his book "Once upon a time there was the Rizzonito - Bronte
in the history of Europe" (Turin, 1993).
To sister Frances ("innocent victim offered to God as holocaust
to supreme expiation"), Pasquale Spanò in the book
"Etnei" (Turin, 1963) dedicates also a poetry of his
Many and also precious vestments and holy
vessels belonging to the church, are signs of ancient devotion and
Some go back to early years of the 17th century,
others belong to the second half of the 18th: pouch for
Eucharist, chasubles, copes, maniples and velvet stoles,
taffetas or damask of various colours embroiled in polychrome silk or in gold or silver and also precious and ancient “dalmatiche”,
veils and silken “canopies” of ciboria in gross de Tours
rolled with floral weft and polychrome “lambrecchini”.
More recent instead (19th century) is the couple of wall
stoups in sculptured red marble, placed on the right and left
walls, and the sacristy’s washstand.
The christening font of
white marble covered with painted, gilded and carved wood,
placed on the left side of the aisle goes back to early 20th
You can still find some fragment (165 x 120 cm) of
the imposing catafalque demolished some decades ago.
been realized in 1930 by the known sculptor Simone Ronsisvalle.
Some inscriptions in the fragment read: on the left “Scultore
Ronsisvalle Simone” – in the centre below “Congregatio matris
misericordiae e “Nicola Lupo fu Gaetano diresse e costrui' a(nno)