Church of Sant'Agata la Vetere in Catania
The Church of Sant’Agata La Vetere in Catania dates back to the year 264, when Bishop San Everio erected a modest votive shrine in the place where the virgin Agata suffered the martyrdom of breast cutting, thirteen years after her death. After the edict of Constantine, the aedicule was replaced by a real cult building built by the bishop San Severino. Expanded in a basilical form around 776, the church was the cathedral of the city for eight centuries, until 1089: for this reason it was indicated with the nickname the Vetere, that is the ancient. Almost totally destroyed by the earthquake of 1693, with the exception of the underground crypt which partly incorporates Roman structures of a public building, It was rebuilt in 1722 with larger dimensions.
The remains of the ancient pre-earthquake façade are visible through some glass plates in the center of the nave of the new church and show that the new church, in the reconstruction, was built at a higher altitude and moved forward about 25 meters.
The façade of the church is made of simple masonry and enclosed between white limestone pilasters. Above the portal there is a large window and the facade culminates with a triangular tympanum above a projecting cornice. On the sides of the door, two round windows interrupt the wall facing of the facade. A marble plaque placed to the right of the portal recalls the illustrious personalities who visited this sacred place.
Among the works kept inside, the Sarcophagus of Sant’Agata stands out, with a Roman marble chest and a Byzantine limestone lid. Today used as an altar of the church, at one time, perhaps, it welcomed the remains of the martyr Agata