Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta – Crotone
The diocese of Crotone is very old and its cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, dates back to the 12th century. The building was severely damaged by a fire during the siege of Alfonso d’Aragona; this fire also hit the adjacent bishopric, with the consequent loss of important archive material.
The restoration of the buildings began with the Crotone bishop Antonio Lucifero (1508-1521): he was responsible for the construction of the chapel of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Later the works were resumed by Monsignor Antonio Sebastiano Minturno who was responsible for the introduction of the cult of the Madonna di Capo Colonna in the Cathedral.
Thanks to Bishop Marcello Majorana (1578-1581) some noble chapels were completed and the old altar of Santa Maria degli Angeli, rebuilt in the chapel of the Visitation, was demolished.
In the first half of the seventeenth century, an important renovation of the entire building was begun by the bishops Cavella and Comneno, a work that was thwarted by the earthquake that struck Calabria in 1638, following which the bell tower collapsed.
The efforts of the next bishop, Monsignor Giovanni Pastor, were also frustrated by an earthquake in 1659 which again knocked down the bell tower that had just been rebuilt. The sacristy, floors and ceilings were immediately restored.
Later, thanks to Monsignor Carafa (1664-1683,) the throne and the wooden choir were rebuilt, the chapel of the Virgin of Capo Colonna was embellished, decorations were made on the coffered false ceiling and an altar dedicated to the Assumption and St. Dionysius.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century the bell tower was built again, immediately reinforced with blocks that allowed it to withstand the earthquake of 1744. In the following years, other interventions were carried out, but roughly the Cathedral already from the end of the 700 presented an appearance similar to that today. The facade is in neoclassical style and is characterized by three imposing portals sculpted by Ludovico Graziani in 1986 with images representing events relating to the history of the church and the city.
In addition, two coats of arms are reproduced on the façade: that of the pope in office and that of the Archbishop. The interior is divided into three naves supported by pillars and the works of art are numerous and valuable, including the sixteenth-century baptismal font on a zoomorphic base and the wooden choir made by Carafa. In the presbytery stand out the canvas by Nicola La Piccola (1727-1790), depicting Jesus returning from the visit to the Doctors and the Martyrdom of St. Dionysius, attributed to the painter Corrado Giaquinto and presumably dating back to 1759.
You can also admire two wooden busts, depicting S. Gennaro and S. Dionigi, protector of the city, both dated by critics to the late seventeenth / early eighteenth century and a marble pulpit by the architect Farinelli from 1893.
At the end of the right aisle opens the nineteenth-century chapel in which the ‘Byzantine icon of the Madonna di Capo Colonna attributed by tradition to San Luca and frescoed by the painter and decorator Vincenzo Severino. In the vault of the chapel the Coronation of the Virgin is depicted and in the lunette of the internal façade the figure of St. Dionysius dominates in the center, holding the city of Crotone in his right hand and the pastoral bacolo in the left.
On the walls of the first span there is on the right the 1904 canvas by De Falco depicting the failed siege of the Turks on the city of Crotone in 1638, put to flight by the apparition of the Sacred Image carried in procession along the city walls; on the opposite wall is the painting of the Boschetto, also dated 1904, which recalls the miraculous event of 1519, when the Turks tried in vain to burn the Sacred Image.
Behind the altar there is a fifteenth-century wooden panel depicting the Madonna of Capo Colonna; later the image was transferred to canvas to save it from the deterioration of the wooden support.
Finally, the church preserves an interesting treasure consisting of silver and vestments.