Basilica of San Giacomo in Caltagirone
The Basilica of San Giacomo di Caltagirone, dedicated to the Patron Saint, is one of the most important religious buildings in the city.
The original structure was built in 1090 at the behest of Count Roger the Norman. However, the church was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693, and later the bombings of the Second World War caused considerable damage. Among the various alterations suffered, the one carried out in the nineteenth century was significant when a majestic bell tower was also inserted.
The facade, in late Baroque style, is divided into two orders. The first order has two columns placed on the sides of the single entrance portal, a prestigious iron work featuring numerous engravings, which can be accessed after a particular polygonal staircase consisting of a few steps. On the sides of the portal there are two niches which, until the nineteenth century, contained the statues of San Giacomo and that of Count Roger the Norman. The second order has a suggestive window with a frame, on the sides of which are amalgamated many decorations that embellish the building.
The interior has a structure with three naves separated from each other by twelve monolithic columns of brown marble, which make up of the round arches. The side aisles are enriched by chapels with altars of precious marble and canvases.
The temple of San Giacomo, born as a votive construction and work of triumph, was transformed into a sanctuary due to the presence of numerous and valuable relics sacred, among these there was also a portion of the arm of San Giacomo, for which a reliquary in gold and platinum was built at the expense of the city, adorned with precious stones, in the shape of a blessing hand. To further embellish the relic, a magnificent silver case was made into which the gold and platinum reliquary was placed. The silver case, which today finds its place in a spacious niche with large doors protected by a grate elegantly decorated with large openings that allow it to be seen, was made by the hand of the renowned engraver Nibilio Gagini in 1599 , later replaced by his son Giuseppe; it was completed by the hand of seven silversmiths who worked following the artistic lines started by the Gagini. The case is rich in embroidery, fine chisels, scrolls and moldings; in it some episodes of the saint are reproduced within six panels that present a modest recess from which the subjects of the scene emerge.
Among the works kept inside the church, of particular interest are two works located in the area. apse, above the wooden choir: the Martyrdom of San Giacomo and the Madonna Odigitria, works by Filippo Paladini.