Basilica of Sant'Antonio in Messina
The Sanctuary of Sant'Antonio di Messina stands on the site of the ancient Avignon district where Sant'Annibale Maria Di Francia from March 1878 began his apostolate in favor of the poorest and needy people.
In 1881, in the Avignon houses, the first chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was inaugurated. It was after the earthquake of 1908 that the current sanctuary was built, in place of the previous chapel. It was built at the behest of St. Annibale Maria Di Francia, founder of the religious congregations of the Rogationists and the Daughters of Divine Zelo, based on an eclectic style project by the engineer Letterio Savoja.
The facades, in Syracuse stone, have statues of bronze, placed in the niches next to the entrance, which depict the saints Luke and Matthew, the work of the Sindoni, while the bas-reliefs that adorn the tympanums, including that of the Heart of Jesus, are the work of Giuseppe D'Arrigo.
Inside the church is richly and entirely decorated with stuccos and paintings. The roofing of the naves is frescoed in squares, by the hand of Rosario Spagnoli. On the vault of the left aisle, dedicated to the Madonna, you can see the triumph of the Immaculate Conception, Judith and Holofernes, the Virgin victorious over the serpent, Queen Esther and Noah's Ark. By the same author are the paintings on the roof of the central nave, depicting Jesus entrusting the apostles with the command of vocational prayer, and the tempera depicting the prophet Elijah, on a chariot of fire, the triumph of the angelic choirs, the Heart of Jesus, Holy Margherita, Jesus the Good Shepherd and St. Cecilia at the organ. The pipe organ, built in 1962 by the Ruffatti brothers and equipped with 20 stops on two manuals and a pedal, is located on the high choir in the counter-façade. The body of the founder is kept in the crypt.