Before my trip to Palermo I came across a cooking/art tv program that showcased the white splendor of an oratory in a church there. I set out one Sunday to see it and arrived at Santa Cita, the large, empty church that was supposed to house it. As I walked through the tall deserted space, I could hear Mass being celebrated somewhere, but saw nothing up at the altar. Eerily, I could also hear the murmur of a group of people praying, also invisibly. Finally I arrived at a side altar to see that indeed Mass was going on attended by about a dozen people. (I later realized that the sounds came from skinny speakers skilfully hidden along the walls of the main church.) Since I'd rudely stumbled in, I immediately sat down & put my camera away. This was difficult because the sight of that very small but magnificent chapel had me itching to record it. My patience was rewarded because after Mass the sacristan allowed me to go right up to the altar and take pictures while he put things away. I realized it was not the space I'd come to see, as this one was all rich and colorful stonework. This was the "... Capella del Rosario, with its polychrome marquetry and intricate lace-like stuccowork. The sculpted reliefs here are by Gioacchino Vitaliano."source
The gentleman generously allowed me to take a few pictures, although he was obviously ready to go. He explained that the church had been badly bombed in WWII, which explained its plainness and the damaged paintings. The marble chancel arch is by Antonello Gagini.
When I left the sacristan explained to me how to get to the door that gives access to the Oratory of the Rosary, the white delight I'd originally come to see, but that wouldn't be open until the next day. On the way out I admired a small elaborate alcove and the lovely patio ~
Entering the Oratory of the Rosary from the altar end through a narrow door, I don't think anyone manages to suppress an ahhh of surprise and delight when confronted with the ebullient work of stucco artist Giacomo Serpotta.
Moving now to the other end and looking back to the altar ~
Before we leave the Oratory, lets take a look at the lovely fabric covering the bottom part of the walls ~
We'll now pass through one of the two doors at the back of the Oratory, which can be seen in the first photo in Reply #6 ~
There is a rude name for this kind of a grin ~
This was the headquarters of the prestigious Fellowship of the Most Holy Rosary. This type of confraternity is made up of "laymen who do special works of piety and services for their particular churches."source
View out the window ~
And back outside, with a last glance at the lovely old tiles ~
I hope you all found this visit as delightful and surprising as I did.
If you are interested, the official cite ~ here ~ has more information and some truly excellent photographs, as the photographer was given full access and undoubtedly used a ladder to capture some images.
This beautifully researched and complete site gives explanations along with pictures of the various images throughout the Oratory.
Mossie and Htmb -- thank you for your comments and attention! Sorry for not responding promptly, but all that white confection had me concentrating furiously to make a coherent thread without duplicates.
Last Edit: Jul 23, 2017 16:17:56 GMT by bixaorellana: replace smiley
Thank you, Htmb, for sticking with it until the end. So glad you enjoyed the tiles, as well. They don't make 'em like that any more!
Thank you for the lovely compliment., Questa! Mm ~ I see what you mean about the steps. As for the dusting, it could have used some when I was there. I guess they use specialists and maybe compressed air nowadays, but especially in the little vignettes you can see evidence of dusting disasters. Many hands and arms have fared poorly.