Church of Anime del Purgatorio
The homonymous confraternity (recently reconstituted) had its seat at the Mother Church since the mid sixteenth century, where there is still a chapel dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory with an altarpiece painted by Giuseppe Tomasi da Tortorici (1651). In the half of the seventeenth century, few disagreements with the representatives of Mother Church and the renewed ambitions of the confraternity led the Brothers to build their own oratory, leaving the previous seat. In the church, the main portal in local sandstone (with wooden shutters of 1678) is engraved with the date 1669, the estimated period of its completion.
The interior has a single nave, with a chancel decorated with Baroque frescoes (first third of the XVIII century) placed within painted frames that look like stucco reliefs. The paintings refer to the title of the church, with the Novissimi (the triumph of death, judgment, hell and heaven) and the Immaculate; altars, with oil paintings on canvas contemporary to the renovated building, are flanked by polychrome and pensile stucco statues depicting saints (1658) by Francesco Li Volsi, who, with his brother Scipione, was considered the artistic excellence of the time in these artworks (tribune in the Mother Church of Ciminna and in the Cathedral of Cefalù).
In the altarpiece of Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus is also depicted Saint Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuitical emblem on the medallion. This circumstance and the name of Casa degli esercizi given to the adjacent building (later courthouse, and now Regional Museum “G. Cocchiara”) led to hypothesize the existence of relationships among church, confraternity, and Society of Jesus.
The building was seriously damaged by the earthquake of 1967, causing a long period of closure. On that occasion, the precious high relief portraying the “Death” (a skeleton with a scythe), placed as gable of the pyramidal composition of the portal, remained hanging over the public street, and when they tried to remove it, it fell and broke into pieces, which are now kept at the Civic Museum. After an arduous restoration, the church was reopened in 1990, and today is mainly used as an auditorium dedicated to Saint Thomas Aquinas.