Basilica Maria Santissima del Soccorso in Sciacca
The Matrice di Maria Santissima del Soccors o is the Mother Church of Sciacca and features architectural structures typical of the Renaissance era.
In the Byzantine era the church of San Pietro in Castro, a primitive place of worship with the functions of the mother church located within the walls of the old castle. According to tradition, the current mother church was founded in 1108 by Giulietta la Normanna, daughter of Count Ruggero in the center of the ancient Ruccera district. Another version attributes the building to the father Ruggero d'Altavilla as a vow of thanks to the Virgin Mary under the title of the Assumption. The mighty apses facing east and the mighty 15th century Gothic arches survive from this primitive layout. In fact, following a collapse on December 15, 1656, it was decided to reconstruct the Norman foundations of the church, keeping intact only the apses and the Gothic arches.
The basilica is preceded by a short flight of steps with access to a small enclosed churchyard with balustrades with typical amphora-shaped columns. It has a tripartite facade with vertical ribs in bare stone made up of paired pilasters resting on high plinths delimiting the three access gates. A cornice with elaborate moldings and string courses separates the two orders. The columns of the second order delimit a large window with stained glass windows decorated with volutes and surmounted by a triangular tympanum. In the central part, the perspective is closed by an incomplete pediment that recalls the architecture of the first order, connected to it by majestic curled spirals. The decoration of the facade is completed by three sculptures by Giandomenico and Antonino Gagini made in 1541: Santa Maria Maddalena, San Pietro Apostolo and San Paolo Apostolo. At the center on the top a wrought iron cross.
With the seventeenth-century remodeling the columns were transformed into mighty pillars and the pointed arches changed into round arches. The ceiling of the central nave is entirely frescoed with the representation of the Throne of God and the celestial court, a theme taken from the Apocalypse, the work of Tommaso Rossi created in 1829.