Religious building

Cattolica

Via Cattolica, 7, Stilo, (Reggio Calabria)

The Catholic is a small Byzantine church with a central plant of a square, situated on the slopes of the Consolino Mountain, in Stilo (RC). Since 2006 it's a candidate as the recognition site of UNESCO "World Heritage". The name of the building comes from the category of "Privileged Church of First Instance", according to the Byzantine nomenclature (Katholiki, churches with a baptistery). The Catholic was the mother of the five parishes of the city of Stilo, with right of burial in it (as evidenced the human remains and a ring of value in a marble tomb). It's a building of a Greek cross inscribed in a square, typical of the Mid-Byzantine period. The interior space is divided by four columns: the center square and the angular shapes are covered by domes supported by columns of the same diameter, the central dome is slightly higher and has a larger diameter. The special arrangement of light sources emphasizes the space and the priginal frescoes that entirely covered the interior walls. The small room is equipped with three apses on the eastern side, the central one (bema) contained the altar itself, the north (prothesis) upheld the preparatory rite of bread and wine, while the south (diakonikon) kept the furnishings and vestments. The apse of the left is from 1577, which depicts a Madonna and Child in relief. A piece of ancient column was used as a canteen for the conservation of the Eucharist, while the four columns supporting the domes, rest on different bases, recovered from much older age: the Arabic inscription praising Allah, engraved on one of the columns and induced to believe that the Catholic was also used as Muslim oratory. From the outside, the overall look of the building is cube-shaped, made with a special blend of large bricks joined by mortar. To the west, the building lies on the bare rock, while in the east (side apse), based on three foundations of stone and brick. Externally it's almost devoid of decoration, apart from the domes, coated square tiles arranged in a diamond shape with two frames of bricks arranged in a sawtooth pattern along the windows.

* G. Abatino, La Cattolica di Stilo: l'architettura bizantina in Calabria, Trani, 1903
* F. Romeo, La Cattolica di Stilo, Firenze, 1987

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