Santa Maria del Patire Abbey

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Santa Maria del Patire Abbey

At the center of the two large urban areas of the municipality of Corigliano-Rossano lies the Byzantine-Norman monastery complex of Santa Maria del Patire. It is a building from the early 12th century boasting immeasurable historical and artistic value. Erected in a position of great charm, it stands in the locality of Ronconiate on a plateau between the valley of the Cino and the ravine of the Aranci. Immersed amidst the woods of the last strip of the Greek Sila near the naturalistic oasis of the Giganti di Cozzo del Pesco, it sits at 600 meters above sea level, overlooking the plain of Sibari and the Ionian Sea, offering an enviable panorama to nature lovers.

 

Within the Byzantine complex lies the prestigious scriptorium where hundreds of manuscripts were written. It was thanks to them that religious and classical culture spread. The Church of Santa Maria del Patire, along with the monastery, was built between 1100 and 1105 by the Basilian monk and priest San Bartolomeo da Simeri to create a “school of souls” and give a rule to the many hermit monks who followed him.

 

The monument was initially dedicated to Santa Maria nuova Odigidria, and the Basilian monks were decisive for its construction. With them, Calabria became a true center of civilization: the arts, letters, philosophical studies, patristics, hymnography, and hagiography flourished.

 

The Church has a rectangular plan, divided into three naves by two rows of cylindrical columns with Ionic bases and lacking capitals. The naves end with three semicircular apses, which represent the most interesting and oldest part of the building. These apses, of which the central one is higher and wider, rise majestically above a smooth base. The part above the arches is characterized by a band decorated with alternating yellow and black diamond patterns. Finally, supported by corbels, appears the overhanging cornice of the roof with tiles. This is the first polychrome inlaid mural decoration in Calabria, of Campanian derivation. Another decoration of the same type is present in the arch of the southern side door. Equally important is the mosaic floor, in opus tesellatum, inside the Church commissioned by Abbot Biagio in 1152 (as the inscription attests), which once covered a third of the surface and constitutes the most evocative attraction inside. It depicts mythological animals and zoomorphic figures enclosed in rosettes enriched with various types of friezes.

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