La Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta stands in Piazza Marconi, in the centre of the historic old town.
The Church was decorated in preparation for the up and coming celebrations of the Feast Day of San Marco (1st October), Atina’s patron saint.
Some of us chose to attend Mass at the Cathedral.
Me, Louise, lighting a candle for my mother in the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, Atina.
The church was founded in the 11th century on the site of an ancient Roman temple dedicated to the god Saturn. At this time the church was dedicated to St John The Baptist, you can see a statue of St John on the exterior facade of the church, located in a niche flanked by the bell towers.
The remains of the martyr San Marco were deposited there. In 1280 the church was enlarged In 1349 the town of Atina and the church were destroyed in a devastating earthquake. In 1405 a bell tower with four bells was erected. By the 16th century it had three chapels dedicated to SS Rosario, St John the Baptist and St Joseph and later more were added to SS Crocifisso and the Madonna of Loreto.
In 1743 the remains of the martyr San Fortunato were deposited there and in 1725 it was decided to totally renovate and expand the the structure including the construction of the dome, the renovation works took approximately 20 years. 1746 the new church was reconsecrated and dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and given her name, In 1798 the church was further adorned with the noble facade with two bell towers and in the first half of the 19th century the artist Teodoro Mancini of Atina painted the interior of the dome and the vault of the central nave. In 1873 the building was struck once again by an earthquake which caused the need for major reparations and further enhancements to the structure were included and then on the 3 May 1878 it was deemed to grant the church the higher status of a cathedral.
Since then the Cathedral has withstood the further serious earthquakes of 1915 and 1984.
The church we see today is decorated in an ornate Baroque style. Monsignor Domenico Simeone showed us the beautiful altar intricately inlaid with multi-coloured pieces of marble in the Napolitan style, similar to work in the Abbey of Montecassino.
The main Altar of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta.
The painting of the Assumption above the main altar
The beautifully carved wooden Choir Stalls
The Statue of Atina’s main patron saint, San Marco, and the Altar of the Cattedrale
The Pulpit and the Confessional
The Baptismal Font –
Many of our Atina ancestors may well have been baptised here.
Some of the beautiful side Altars and Chapels
Painting of the Last Supper
I would just like to add that it was here in this chapel in October 2005 that my parents, Tina and Hugh, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows. It was a very touching experience and a very special occasion.
Sadly they have since both passed away. How I miss them so.
Returning to the Cathedral – The ornate gilded dome and ceiling.
Looking towards the rear of the church and the organ.
A Fresco of St John the Baptist.
Ornate Baroque Plasterwork and Gold Leaf.
The organ which was built in 1737 by the Catarinozzi family.
An ornate sarcophagus.
During WWII and the heavy bombing of Atina by the Allies in 1943, the Cathedral was seriously damaged, the dome was destroyed and several works of art were also lost. In addition, sadly some paintings by the artist Luigi Velpi were stolen from the Cathedral in recent years.
A big thank you to Monsignor Domenico Simeone who gave us a wonderful tour of the beautiful Cathedral, in perfect English.
All photos by me © Louise Shapcott
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