Church of S. Lucia (Mother-Church)
It was founded close to the city walls, and in 1169 was damaged by a violent earthquake. It was mentioned in a document dating back to 1175, and dedicated to the saint in 1230. The church originally had a wide nave, and was oriented opposite than today, with the main entrance on the current via Numea, leading to the Porta Palermo. Between the XIII and XV centuries, the Church underwent significant structural changes to become a basilica with a nave and two aisles. Between the late XVI and first half of XVII century, the building was raised, reversing its direction, erecting the transept with octagonal lantern, and the deep pensile chancel, over an arch that spans the public street.
The sixteenth-century bell tower (1521-1562), which was placed alongside the ancient apse, was incorporated in the new baroque façade that provided for a second twin tower, begun in the late XVIII century and never completed.
The magnificent main portal (mid XVII century) and the southern one, called of “S. Gaetano” (1626), are local sandstone works by stone-cutters. The one that opens to the north (by Giorgio da Milano or Andrea Mancino and Antonio Vanella, 1494), probably dismantled and reassembled higher, presents a Renaissance marble face-work: the lintel with royal Aragonese coat of arms and the Saints Peter and Paul within medallions, and the above fanlight with the Madonna and the Infant between the Sicilian Saints Lucy and Agatha, the Annunciation and the Savior Blessing.
The few visible traces of the Medieval church are the vestiges of the original façade (quoins and portal kept in the parish museum), the terracotta floor, the carved base and portion of a column frescoed with saints in 1488, recently found, as well as the late-Gothic and Renaissance face-works of the windows opened onto the aisles, and few surviving liturgical furnishings.
In the XVI century came from Palermo the altar-piece for the main altar with the Apostles in the predella, the Risen Christ between the Saints Peter and Paul, the Annunciation and the Eternal Father (1552), as well as the baptismal font, and the statue of the titular Saint Lucy (1575). All is in white Carrara marble sculpted by the Gagini, while the monumental silver monstrance is by Nibilio Gagini (1601-1604). Seventeenth-century marble-workers from Palermo are the authors of the altars of Madonna dei Miracoli and Madonna dell’Itria, positioned at the ends of the transept. They were placed to reconcile inside the church the Latin soul with the Greek one, still alive among the population until the middle of XVII century. Skilled carvers from Mistretta, Messina, and Palermo, realized the stalls and lectern of the new choir (1665-1809). The complexes adorned with marble inlay, with high reliefs and statues, of the chapels of Madonna dei Miracoli, SS. Sacramento and SS. Crocifisso belong to the workshop of Domenico Battaglia (1732 - post 1750) in Catania, while Francesco Ignazio Marabitti (1771) is the author of the white marble reliefs of the neoclassical main altar. The majestic pipe organ with carved and gilded baroque body was moved from the main entrance to the presbitery in 1875, hiding the stucco niche where the Risen Christ by Gagini was placed. A choir (1657), with paintings of the Immaculate, the Redeemer, and the Apostles, supports it. The stuccos by local workers or from Palermo and Catania (late eighteenth century), covering walls and vaults, give the edifice a rocaille appearance complemented by the beautiful contemporary neoclassical chandeliers in gilded wood of a carver from Catania. Every year, during Lent, a huge nineteenth-century linen cloth, painted with Cristo davanti ad Anna and symbols of Passion, obscures the presbytery and traditionally drops during the Easter Vigil. The historical archive and the library attached to the church, preserve materials from the XVI century onward. The restored spaces underneath the transept now house the parish museum.