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THE CHURCHES  OF ISCHIA

There are many churches on the island of Ischia and all worth visiting for tourists; below we list the main ones.

THE CATHEDRAL – Ischia Ponte
The church of Ischia or “Insulana,” in the course of its almost thousand-year history, had, perhaps, even four cathedrals. The first, of course, was located in the medieval village which extended over part of the area now called “Arso” and was destroyed by the lava flow from the eruption Fiaiano in 1301 or 1302; The second, perhaps, for a time, was established by the current cathedral crypt of the castle, on which in the course of the fourteenth century was built the third largest cathedral dedicated to the Assumption; the fourth is the current one.
In the course of the battle between the armies of French and Anglo-Bourbon took place in the channel of Ischia in June 1809, an attempt to reconquer the kingdom of Naples tempted by Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, the cathedral of the castle was hit by several bombs that caused the upheaval and the subsequent desecration of the holy place and the devastation by the thieves and soldiers.
The chapter immediately following this disaster, asked for hospitality to the Augustinians to be able to celebrate in their church of Santa Maria della Scala, the choral Office . Cohabitation , however, lasted only a few months due to the suppression of the Religious Corporations occurred in August 1809 with the subsequent removal of the Augustinians and the confiscation of all their property by the state. So he came to create a new situation. The Canons and the vicar capitular Joshua Mazzella , who ruled the diocese , which was devoid of the bishop since December 1799 and will remain so until 1818 , having noted bitterly that it was no longer possible to patch up the cathedral on the castle , they advanced plea to Re permit them because the former church of the Augustinian order to transform it into the new cathedral . They pointed out that the Diocese of Ischia was of royal patronage and therefore it was the duty of the king to provide both the diocese that the Chapter of a cathedral choirs adapted to the needs of the celebrations as well as bishops . So Joachim Napoleon , King of the Two Sicilies , by decree dated January 17, 1810 in Paris , granted to the Chapter of Ischia the church of S. Maria della Scala ” with all the sacred furnishings , utensils and ornaments , which in the same church there are to settle the cathedral church . ” The Canons , therefore , to be guests of the church of Santa Maria della Scala is found to be the owners of the church and immediately undertook , although in severe economic difficulties , the necessary adaptation to the new function of the structure that had to be carried out. The work of beautification , restoration and adaptation of the church to the new function that the chapter had once taken, was continued by the bishops, from Joseph’s Lover ( 1818-43 ) who, after almost nineteen years of vacancy of the diocese , came to pick up the threads of the succession of bishops ” islanders ” and then all the others that have taken place to date.
The monumental church that we see today , is the third that the Augustinians of S. Maria della Scala have made in the course of their long history of the monastery , founded in the second half of the thirteenth century . Many were their benefactors for whom the convent was to be the beneficiary of a huge real estate assets which provided a great annuity . The medieval church was rebuilt in the first decade of the seventeenth century but , for various reasons , mainly because of the proximity to the sea and the bradyseism here very pronounced , it was necessary to rebuild it again in the fourth decade of the eighteenth century. The design and construction management was entrusted to Antonio Martinetti, or Massinetti . The work was now complete the July 11, 1752 when the engineer signed the final technical and financial expertise of the work performed . The stucco decoration was made in the same years by Caesar Starace , alone or with his brother Francis, has created other masterpieces of decoration in several churches on the island of Ischia. The large blades of the transept and apse , along with other paintings arranged in the side chapels , are works of Giacinto Diano realized in the years 1759 and 1760 while the second altar of St. Joseph on the left aisle is the work of the painter Alfonso Spigna ( Lacco 1697-1785 ) . Of the few things saved from the ancient cathedral or from other churches and the castle are preserved here , just remember the wooden crucifix of the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries , recently restored , from the chapel of the Sacrament SS.mo the ancient cathedral, under the patronage of the city d’Ischia , where there was also a brotherhood of the same title . The venerated icon of the Madonna della Libera, painted on the table and brought here from the church of the castle, desecrated in 1809 but still existing , was solemnly crowned by the Bishop Ernesto de Laurentiis ( 1929-1956 ) September 7, 1930 . Marbles that constitute the baptistery , in which he was baptized August 15, 1654 Carlo Gaetano Calosirto , the future St. John Joseph of the Cross, comes in part from the grandiose and spectacular mausoleum of John Cossa who was on the front door of the old cathedral , dismembered during the course of the eighteenth century to make way for the organ. During the raids carried out in 1809 after the bombing of the cathedral, there was a further dispersion of the marbles of this and other medieval monuments that were in it . The few remains are now kept in the Diocesan Museum located in the building of the Seminary. The wooden choir of the canons was made immediately after the grant by the King of the church to meet the needs of the choral liturgy . The altar and the balustrade are marble- work of an unknown Neapolitan subcontracted by the Bishop Felice Amato in 1757 , while those of the aisles were built by Bishop D’ Amante ( 1818-1843 ) . The Chapel of the Sacrament SS.mo with the throne to the venerated icon of the Madonna della Libera, who was brought here from its existing church on the castle after the desecration took place in 1809 along with the marble floor and the skirting of the whole church , is was carried out during the episcopate of Mario Palladino ( 1901-1913 ) . The church was solemnly dedicated on July 8, 1860 by Bishop Felice Romano, who , in addition to the title of ‘ the Assumption which was also dedicated to the ancient cathedral , he added one of the patron saints Restituta of Africa and Giovan Giuseppe della Croce , a Franciscan Alcantarino , born in Ischia, in the village of Celsa , a few steps from today’s cathedral. Today the house where he was born is a public oratory belonging to the chapter of the cathedral .
PARROCCHIA S. MARIA ASSUNTA – Ischia Ponte
The Collegiate Church of the Holy Spirit, was built between 1636 and 1676. Originally, on the spot where now stands the sacred building, there was a chapel dedicated to St. Sophia family owned Cossa. It does, around 1570, it was adapted as a place of worship of the sailors of the village of Celsa, while the title of the parish church of St. Vitus in Camps, was transferred, by decision of the bishop Fabio Polverino, in 1580. Moreover, all the faithful tassarono, dedicating a portion of the profits of their activities to a program of material and spiritual assistance. To this end, in 1613, next to the coven, was built a small hospital, which worked for a few decades. In 1672, the expansion work was completed and the church was opened for worship of all the inhabitants of the district. In 1851 Pope Pius IX elevated to the title with a collegiate chapter of canons. The Collegiate Church of the Holy Spirit is the seat of the veneration of Saint John Joseph of the Cross , a Franciscan Alcantarino ( Ischia 1654 – Naples 1734) , whose remains were recently returned native island after a long stay in Naples , where he died , to the great jubilation of the population tied to a deeply felt worship to the saint, a prominent figure in the religious history of the eighteenth century Neapolitan . The church has a Latin cross plan with a single nave and three chapels on each side . A short staircase leads to the entrance . The façade, with very simple lines , it is only decorated on top by a trefoil window above the door . On the right side there is the bell tower, pyramid-shaped , surmounted by a dome pear-shaped , covered with yellow and green glazed tiles . At the intersection of the nave and the transept there is a low dome , which leads to the upper a sloping roof resting on the outer walls . The interior is particularly rich in works of art, including a fresco , preserved in the sacristy , depicting the castle of the sixteenth century and a silver canopy of the eighteenth century. Upon entering , left, welcomes us an original nineteenth-century baptismal font , and on the counter there is a painting of 1709 by an unknown painter from Campania , depicting St. Francis Xavier baptizing a black boy . In the first chapel on the left of a Madonna and Child with Saints , the result of an artist’s brush of a provincial inspired by the ways of Francesco Solimena. On the altar of the third chapel on the left, a Lady of the Rosary surrounded by fifteen laps depicting the Mysteries. The painting , done in 1786 using an old canvas, qualitative difference in height between the face of the Virgin , very nice and sweet, certainly autograph and the bottom , which participates in the workshop . In the two transects there is a pair of very beautiful altars in polychrome marble , executed by Antonio Di Lucca marble worker in the second half of the eighteenth century . The altar frontal right was modified in 1797 to include the container of the relics of St. Pio. On the altar of the left transept is a beautiful Our Lady of Grace show with the souls in purgatory by Paolo De Matteis , signed and dated 1710. The Virgin, sitting high up in the clouds and Child, is dripping copious drops of milk from the breast to a group of souls in purgatory , which strongly , implore . The cloth is impregnated with refined grace and elegance of composition measured through the use of chromatic tones drafts richly illuminated , anticipates that the rocaille . De Matteis realized in the painting ” a perfect blend of color and design, content and form , in compliance with that vein of renewed classicism ” ( Rolando Persian ) , which marks his most successful works . The high altar in polychrome marble is the work of collaboration between an excellent Neapolitan marble worker and an unknown sculptor , author of the cherubs that adorn the two capialtari and the ciborium . The balustrade incorporates motifs of great success, introduced in the Neapolitan area by Nicholas Tagliacozzi Channel in the chancel of the Certosa di San Martino. In the wall of the apse is located a Pentecost , created in 1768 by Di Spigna , a composition animated by a circular movement of great dynamism , which makes us look the painter Lacco updated on ways of Neapolitan painting of the sixties, academic inspiration . On the walls of the apse is a series of four reliefs modeled in stucco , representatives, from left : St. John the Evangelist , Holy Evangelist (?) , St. Andrew and St. James. They were built in 1768 by Cesare Starace, when the artist also worked on the stucco frame for the picture of Pentecost. In an alcove in the altar of the right transept there is a sculpture representing St. Pius mannequin stands on a carved and painted wooden coffin , adorned with golden profiling . On the altar there is a Crucifix, late eighteenth century, in carved and painted wood , characterized by a marked pietism , which takes iconographic schemes imported from Spain the previous century. On the altar of the right transept there is a Calvary, run by Giuseppe Bonito , probably in 1768 , shaped around the crucifix shown previously . The painting is an autograph replica of the one carried out in 1757 by the Neapolitan church of San Giovanni and Santa Teresa Arc Mirelli . The work shows clear signs of classicism , which were manifested in the Naples area in those years under the influence of Roman painting . In the third chapel on the right side is a place Annunciation , dated 1776 and attributed to the little-known Vincent Diano , of which you are not familiar kinship with the most well-known Hyacinth, active in the nearby Cathedral . The authorship of the painting is based on convincing comparisons with frescoes painted by the artist in the monastery of St. Catherine of Siena in 1777. Niche in the altar of the second chapel on the right is a sculpture of St. Peter , the work of an artist inspired by the Neapolitan ways of Joseph Picano , from which it takes literally the pattern of the hair and beard to conduct scrolls. In the sacristy , in a stylish mobile furniture, handicrafts Campania in the first half of the nineteenth century , are preserved various sacred objects of silver, among which are a wonderful cup punched by silversmith Gennaro Russo , active with two statues in the chapel of the Treasury the Cathedral of Naples . In the sacristy there is also a Traditio clavium , a rare iconographic theme executed in the studio of Fabrizio Santafede . The painting was studied dall’Alparone , who then assign it to the brush of the master, operated comparisons with Christ and the Samaritan woman in the picture gallery of the Pio Monte della Misericordia and the Christ and the sons of Zebedee the gallery of Gerolamini . The painting in question, while being of great quality , however, betrays a certain hardness of execution, which contrasts with the usual sweetness of paintings Santafede . The Scricchia Santoro, in his oral communication , has approached the work to the catalog by Giovan Bernardo Azzolino, not having found those characters rounding and softening in the typical physiognomy santafediane . A particular attention has been paid by Rolando Persian , in his monograph on the paintings of the churches of Ischia and Borrelli, in drawing up the tab for the Superintendent, the figure at the bottom right of the customer , finding a similarity with the donor that appears in the painting of Carlo Sellitto in the church of Aliano in the province of Matera. Comparisons which, in our opinion, is entirely arbitrary , being the portrait of his patron ‘s Sellitto a true masterpiece imbued with the more blunt naturalism , that we begin to find in the Neapolitan area after the coming of Caravaggio, not until the second decade of the seventeenth century , while the Traditio clavium Ischian be placed chronologically at least twenty years before . Currently placed on the right wall of the counter of the church , there is an oil painting of the Madonna , Child and Saints , which was found in 1969 behind the painting of the Pentecost , located on the main altar . Dall’Alparone at first attributed to Marco Pino , was prudently by the same scholar , assigned , after a closer examination, to an employee of the shop. It can be assumed the name of Michael Manchelli , son of the master, who , as is apparent from the documents , takes the form of her father in many works , but did not reach its quality levels. Always on the counter right is a Lady of Salvation , by an unknown active in the first half of the seventeenth century . The Virgin is seated on clouds on the legs and has the Child , which holds a scepter with which denotes a group of fishing boats bound for the island of Ponza. A classic votive offerings donated by survivors of a storm . And finally , in the first chapel on the right is a painting of some interest , representing the Holy Family with St. Anne, St. Joachim and St. John , to be compared with the painting of the same name , preserved in the sacristy of the church of Saints Philip and James in Naples and assigned to Fabrizio Santafede . The canvas of the church Ischia follows slavishly , with much lower quality , the framework of which the Neapolitan accurately repeats “details , attitudes, expression , intensity of looks , all of which combine to recreate that kind of family atmosphere and intimate atmosphere that is found in numerous paintings santafediane . ” The Church of the Holy Spirit has been elevated to the Diocesan Shrine of St. John Joseph of the Cross on May 5, 2008 by the Bishop of Ischia Bishop Filippo Strofaldi . It ‘ back to being the parish seat March 5, 2010 with the title of Santa Maria Assunta in the Diocesan Shrine of St. John Joseph of the Cross, and with the establishment of the new parish priest Canon Charles Candide , which took place April 11, 2010 , Sunday at Albis and Feast of Divine Mercy. On 27 July 2010, the sanctuary was decorated with the gift of the Plenary by the Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary .
CHIESA SANTA MARIA DEL SOCCORSO – Forio
Is one of the most famous churches in Ischia , very beautiful, both for its architecture and for its stunning location overlooking the sea . As soon as you turn the tip Caruso , here she appears, the white church of Soccorso , so called because it represented a point of salvation for those who worked at sea. The church seen from the sea in fact, infused courage to mariners that directed prayers to the Madonna del Soccorso, always generous with the poor people of the sea. A testimony of this great faith you can notice the numerous votive kept in the church.
The church was part of an ancient Augustinian monastery founded in the fourteenth century , the convent of the Hermits of St. Augustine.
It was built away from the town, at a time when the village of Forio, from the primitive settlement on the hill around the church of St. Vitus, was developing and spreading towards the sea.
The church of Soccorso has undergone considerable changes over the centuries . The original nucleus was very simple, it included only the nave and the apse . In 1791 was built the chapel of the Crucifix , and in 1854 they built a dome , which collapsed in the earthquake of 1883 and rebuilt in smaller proportions .
A visit is definitely worth the churchyard : a huge roof terrace with stone seats , the center of which sits atop a stone cross from the base covered with majolica tiles . These tiles also adorn the railing of the stairs leading to the church.
CHIESA DI SANTA RESTITUTA – Lacco Ameno
Is situated in the town of Lacco Ameno on the north side of Ischia, is a shrine dedicated to the African martyr and patron saint of the island is composed of two churches.
The first dates back to 1886 , the other side kind in sec. XI on top of an early Christian basilica ( which remains preserved crypt ) was restored in seconds . Rebuilt in the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. In it are preserved two wooden statues of the saint: a polychrome bust in 1711 and a golden sculpture of the sixteenth century , it is located in the side chapel where the relics of the saint.
Along the walls , is facing a series of paintings by Francesco Mastroianni illustrating the salient episodes of the martyrdom of Santa Restituta .
Attached to the sanctuary is the archaeological museum , built in the fifties through the initiative of the rector of Don Pietro Monti , a priest and archaeologist , which houses artifacts from the Hellenistic , Roman and early Christian testimony that Ischia was the first Greek colony of the West.
Interesting is the representation of the martyrdom of Santa Restituta and landing in the Bay of Saint Montano Lacco Ameno , celebrated every year on May 16.
EREMO DI SAN NICOLA – Monte Epomeo
Is in fact the highest island is situated on the summit of Mount Epomeo and is definitely one of the most significant examples of rock-cut architecture in Ischia. The old convent adjacent to the church, it was transformed into a restaurant where you can enjoy culinary specialties of the island. The hermitage, completely stone excavated in the tufa, existed as early as 1459. On the wall at the bottom, there is the chapel of the relics, hand-blown glass jars containing ancient human remains of saints and blessed.
You can also admire a statue of St. Joseph in terracotta and a Christ Dying on the wall to the right of the altar. The arch on the main altar has a statue of St. Nicholas of Bari, dated 1500, by an unknown sculptor of Campania.
CHIESA DI SAN VITO – Forio
St. Vitus cathedral dedicated to the patron saint of Forio, is the oldest church of the town . The existence of the church was first documented in 1306 by a papal bull confirming the University of Naples, the right to have a resident priest in the parish of St. Vitus, but the assumptions on the date of the foundation of the building remain discordant . According to the scholar Don Pietro Monti , the church was probably built to replace an older church dedicated to St. Vitus built by the inhabitants in the vicinity of the marina Citara , around which was organized in the house of Forio Angevin period . The area was too exposed to Saracen raids , was later abandoned the settlement and moved into a higher and more secure site , where a new church was erected . The parish of St. Vitus in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries constituted the reference point of the first settlement and played a very important role in the local community, the majority of the population foriana at the time lived right on the hill and in the countryside near the church ; only towards the middle of the fifteenth century . the village of Forio began to expand towards the sea, around another church , S. Maria di Loreto. In the courtyard of the church , presumably in the sixteenth century , were erected two chapels , one dedicated to St. Martin on the right side , the other dedicated to St. James the Apostle , on the left side ; Both were demolished , the first around 1773 , the other in 1857 , to allow the construction of the two towers. Interventions that occurred during the eighteenth century . have modified the original Gothic architecture : the University of Naples in 1735 financed an expansion of the complex , was built in 1748 and in 1790 the altar was renovated stucco decoration , floor and marble altars of the side chapels . Eighteenth century according Salvati (1951 ) are the two bell towers , topped with pears typical of Baroque architecture in southern Italy ; Axe informs that a tower for the bells , the other for the public clock ” newly built ” and that the tower hosts “the largest bell of the Municipality donated by Ferdinand II in 1854 .” The nineteenth century . date back to the middle part of the main facade and other additions within . The recasting of the facade , according Salvati, is a cold transposition modules Vignola , in place of the original , much more rustic and rural . The front side however, has kept its original appearance and what makes it particularly interesting. A tombstone placed behind the altar reminds the pastor Nicolantonio Maltese who , during the plague of 1656 , rather than flee to the country , was to assist the sick ; ending the pestilence , in gratitude , the directors of Forio made him pastor of St. Vitus . In 1989 the church of St. Vitus has been elevated to the Papal Basilica .
Notes: The local host of the basilica which houses an important library of five thousand volumes, some incunabula, sixteenth and rare editions. Many books come from the ancient library of the convent of St. Francis abolished in 1866.