History of Tropea - Panel 4


The Church of the Gesù dates back to the early 1600s, built by the Jesuit Fathers who arrived in Tropea in 1594. The building stands on the site of the ancient church of "San Nicola della Cattolica" (VIII-IX century), Cathedral of Tropea before the present cathedral, but it follone the Greek Orthodox rite. Once the remains of the ancient Byzantine church were demolished, the church was built as we see it today on the design of the Church of the Gesù Nuovo in Naples (a Greek cross, with a dome and barrel vaults, which was never finished). The façade is in Baroque style in harmony with the interior (1). There are four relief pilasters protruding from the facial wall that hold up the tympanum, at the center of which there is a large window with the emule of the Jesuit Fathers "I.H.S": Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus the Savior of men) (2).

In the middle of the pilasters we have four niches terminating in shell shells, typical of the Baroque style, in which we have the plaster statues of the greatest Holy Doctors of the Western Church: Sant'Agostino, San Gregorio Magno, Sant'Ambrogio and San Girolamo. The entrance is composed of a massive caisson door decorated with bronze crosses and rosettes. Above the main altar we find the painting of the "Circumcision of Jesus" long attributed to Paolo De Matteis (1662-1728) (3).

On the pendentives, on the lunettes under the dome and on the back walls are depicted the Virtues and biblical scenes signed by the tropean painter Giuseppe Grimaldi (1690-1748) (4). By the same author we have the large canvas of "The Nativity" which can be admired above the entrance door.

The work is dated 1731 and occupies 38 square meters of the wall and depicts the Madonna and Holy Child in the center and around scenes of rural and pastoral life. On the left we have the self-portrait of Grimaldi while pointing to the Nativity (5).

Entering the church, on the left we find the bust of Carlo Scattaretica (6) with the epigraph which shows his donation of 600 ducats in 1676 for the reconstruction of the church and the Chapel of Sant'Alfonso Maria dei Liguori (1696-1787), founder of the Congregation of Redemptorist Missionaries. The eighteenth-century altar is in marble inlays, it was bought in Messina by Fr. Vito Michele Di Netta and dedicated to the holy founder of the Redemptorists on the occasion of his canonization in 1839 (7-8).

Perhaps these marbles belonged to churches destroyed by the earthquake of 1783. On the left of this altar stands the painting of St. Clement Maria Hofbauer (1750-1820) and on the right the Patron Saint of Calabria, San Francesco di Paola (1416-1507). First this chapel was dedicated to St. Nicholas. The chapel on the right is dedicated to San Gerardo Maiella (1726-1755). This altar is a symmetrical stucco imitation of the altar of Sant 'Alfonso Maria dei Liguori (9-10).

In this chapel we have the statues of Our Lady of Sorrows and the Crucifix, to which the chapel was originally dedicated. On the left wall we find the tomb of the Venerable Servant of God P. Vito Michele Di Netta (1787-1849) (11).

Moving towards the center of the church, on the left we find the altar of Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), founder of the Jesuit Order. The canvas, by Giuseppe Pascaletti (1699-1757), depicts the Saint while he has a vision of Jesus telling him: "In Rome I will be propitious to you". On the sides of this altar, two paintings by Giuseppe Grimaldi can be admired: the one on the right depicts Saint Ignatius writing the spiritual exercises dictated by the Madonna (12), while the left one represents the death of the Saint (13).

Above the altar stand the plaster statues of San Francesco Borgia (1510-1572) and San Francesco de Geronimo (1642-1716). At the center of this altar, at the top, the statue of the Maria Immaculate and on the right the bust of San Gennaro (+ 305). Under the altar there is the statue of Saint Filomena (+ 311), martyr under Diocletian. On the right of the church we find the altar of St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), one of the first companions of Saint Ignatius called "the apostle of the Indies". Above the altar we have another painting by Giuseppe Pascaletti depicting the Saint. On the sides of the altar we find two canvases by Grimaldi: on the left San Francesco Saverio in the act of receiving the crucifix recovered from a crab (14) and on the right the death of the Saint.

The two plaster statues placed high up on the altar represent St. Stanislaus Kostka with Child Jesus (1550-1568) on the left and Saint Luigi Gonzaga (1568-1591), both Jesuit saints, on the right. We have God the Father in the center. Under the altar we have the eighteenth-century wooden statue of the Dead Christ that every year, on Good Friday, is carried in procession together with that of the Madonna Addolorata. The great nineteenth-century Murano glass chandelier was given by Count Pasquale Gabrielli as a sign of gratitude to the Redemptorist Missionaries.


Palazzo Sant’Anna (15) was built in 1605 with the aim to house the Jesuit College. In Tropea, at the beginning of the 17th century, it was felt the necessity of the presence of this religious order and its school system, famous in the world. With the expulsion of the Compagnia del Gesù as a religious order, decreed in 1768 and with its suppression by Pope Clemente XIV, their presence also ceased in Tropea. About thirty years later, the College and the Gesù Church were entrusted to the Redemptorist Fathers of Sant'Alfonso Maria dei Liguori who, with alternate events, still exercise their spiritual ministry. The ancient Jesuit college is now divided between the Municipality, which has its headquarters there, and the Redemptorist Fathers. It is a large building, which maintains part of the original structure even in the basement or basement rooms facing the sea, on the rocky ridge, where the vaulted structures on which the upper floors were kept are preserved. After the earthquake of 1783 it suffered such enormous damage that the demolition of some structures on the upper floors was necessary (16).

Seat of the Municipality from 1867 to 1985, it underwent interventions in 1928 which led to the separation of the property of the Redemptorist Fathers from the municipal property. In fact, with the government suppression of the religious institutes of 1867 the Redemptorists were forced to leave the building until they left Tropea in 1888. It was only in 1927 that the bishop of Tropea and the clergy wanted to return to resume the ancient pastoral fervor. Over the years there have been several restructuring interventions that have not changed the original plant, but only the internal secondary distributions (17).


The Chapel of the Nobles, also called the Chapel of the Bianchi di S. Nicola (18) is a small building with a rectangular plan. Located adjacent to the side facade of Palazzo Sant'Anna, it was erected in the Baroque age between the end of the 1500s and the beginning of the 1600s. It is accessed through a small external courtyard enclosed by an iron gate from 1833 (19).

On the entrance gate it is present a noble emblem with an inscription that enhances the tropean patrician Paolo Braccio for having taken care of the restoration of the church in 1648. Conservative restorations from later periods cannot be identified. The construction of the roof, the frescoes and the wooden furnishings date back to the mid-18th century. The interior of the Chapel of the Nobles is entirely decorated with painting, tempera on the wall, with ornamental vegetable, geometric and figurative motifs, it constitutes a significant document of Baroque art in Calabria and in particular of local flourishing painting (20).

The sturdy stone wall structures along with pilasters and ashlars are in good condition. It has a wooden covering on two overlapping warps made in two different eras, to better hold the valuable vault of canes and plaster. There are seven canvases (the originals can be found in the Diocesan Museum of Tropea) depicting episodes from the life of the Madonna, some of which are signed by the Tropean painter Jacopo Ruffa (21-22-23).

From the small sacristy, adjacent to the chapel, you reach, through a staircase, the choir that preserves a valuable seventeenth-century organ with twenty-one canes, distributed in three bays with valuable baroque carvings (24). The space and the volumes of the chapel have the dominant motifs in the monumental wooden altar and in two large windows facing the sea.

Progetto realizzato dagli studenti della classe IV
del Liceo Classico "P.Galluppi" - Anno 2018/2019
Tutor: Dott. Dario Godano
Traduzioni: Prof.ssa Luigina Rovito,
Prof.ssa Francesca Ottavio, Prof.ssa Franca Medile