Church of St Pancras Taormina

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5/5

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October, 2017

The Church of St Pancras or Pancrazio is below Porta Messina to the north of the city.

St Pancras was a close associate of St Peter and became the first bishop of Taormina in around 40AD and is the patron saint of the city. The church dates from the C17th and is set in an arcaded courtyard. It was built over the ruins of a C3rd BC Greek temple dedicated to the god Jupiter, making it the oldest church in Taormina. Traces of Greek masonry can still be see in the walls. The large blocks of stone now acting as seats in the courtyard are also Greek.

Built of Taormina stone, the outside is plain apart from the west door with its marble columns and statues of St Pancras and Saint Procopius, who was bishop at the time of the Arab conquest. It has a small attached bell tower.

The inside of the church is quite light considering the only light is through the door and small windows at the base of the ceiling. The decoration is Baroque with decorative plasterwork and pillars.

The organ is in the gallery above the west door. Running round the top of the walls is a shelf with small paintings and urns.

There is a splendid Baroque marble altar set in an apse at the east end. At the centre is a seated statue of St Pancras, which is carried round the town on July 9th, his feast day. Above, in a small roundel is the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child surrounded by putti. At the top is God the Father. On either side set in decorative plaster frames are pictures of St Pancras arriving in Naxos. The picture to the right of the altar depicts the martyrdom of St Pancras during a banquet.

The side walls are lined with altars with large paintings depicting different periods in Taormina religious history. surrounded by carved plaster frames. Between are smaller paintings which have silver scones on either side.

There are elaborate marble memorials set in the nave floor.

This is just one of the many good churches in Taormina and again is worth visiting.

There are more pictures and information about Taormina “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/sicily/day_five/index.html

ESW

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