The sixteenth-century church of Santa Maria alla Fontana is next to a big rock face.
The previous building was almost certainly a mosque.
The current appearance is of 1615, as it is proved by the inscription on the plaque that is above the door. However, the building had already existed since the XVI century, as it is testified by Captain Philip Rinaldi’s order of September 1564. He attributed to the church building site the right to occupy the land for the annual fair of 8th September.
The church is famous not only for artistic and monumental features, but also for many legends related to it. It was used for wakes, so the protagonists of some of them are almost always ghosts; other legends arise from the works of art preserved in the church, or are related to the location or the presence of tunnels hidden behind the altar.
The portal of the church was lowered during the construction of the Paolo Agliata Avenue in 1871 and it was faithfully reassembled by Giuseppe Cangelosi. For that reason, to access to the first floor of the church it was necessary to build a staircase with two divergent flights. Above it, there is an organ pipe that was built in 1845 by Pasquale Gueli.
The interior of the church is covered by three barrel vaults supported by Tuscan semi columns of gray stone that are topped by beautiful capitals.
In the cross vault, at the end of the medium nave, there is the main altar. Here, in a leaden limestone niche, there is the statue of the Virgin and Child that was made by Gagini’s school and that is placed on a base where Redeemer’s hagiographies are represented.
The two side altars have marble altarpieces. On the left side there is the Pieta in a marble cornice made by the sculptor Francesco del Mastro in 1519. On the right side there is a marble icon depicting Christ who sheds his blood.
In front of it, there is a wooden statue of St. Anthony that was probably made by Pietro Gio Ragona.
On the side walls there are four paintings: one of the Most Holy Mary of Mount Carmel that was probably made by Vincenzo Riolo; the altar of St. Julian follows and here there is a very particular painting of the Madonna and Child, St. Elizabeth, St. John, St. Joseph, St. Zachary and St. Julian of Le Mans that was probably painted in the XVII century; the third one is the painting dedicated to St. Lucy and St. Apollonia and the fourth represents the martyrdom of St. Jude Thaddeus.
The church is currently closed for restoration.
For further information:
Parrocchia Maria SS. Assunta
Tel and fax: 0921.640227