Cathedral of Marsala
The Cathedral of Marsala , named after Saint Thomas Becket of Canterbury , historical English archbishop, is one of the most important monuments of the city of Marsala.
The cult of Saint Thomas Becket it was introduced in the city of Marsala during the Norman period, in particular by Giovanna Plantageneta of England, who, in 1177, married William II of Sicily, who wanted to build a cathedral in honor of the saint of whom she was devoted. A shipwreck, along the Marsala coast, of a ship loaded with Corinthian columns destined for a church to be built in England in honor of the saint is also traced back to that period. Columns that will later be used for the pronaos of the original temple.
The cathedral was thus built in 1177, in place of the original cathedral built in the early Christian age and probably destroyed during the Arab invasion. During the Aragonese period, the Cathedral of Marsala was enlarged several times, enriching its already monumental stage presence in the heart of the city of Marsala. The Aragonese added several chapels, as well as expanding the premises. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, several changes were made, making the Cathedral of Marsala closer to the Sicilian Baroque style . The building thus assumed the configuration that we can admire today.
The façade of the Cathedral of Marsala, in exposed limestone, consists of two orders: the first in Baroque style, while the second and the bell tower, completed one hundred years after the end of construction, is in Baroque style. The first order has marble portals, the central one with baroque motifs, and the more recent side ones with late Renaissance motifs. Sixteenth-century references emerge from the round oculi, the high pilasters and the Tuscan frieze. On the other hand, the elegant ornaments of the central portal and the scattered exhibits of the oculi and frames of the first order are from the eighteenth century. It has a central body which is flanked by two wonderful bell towers that share its architectural style.
The interior has a basilica plan with three transept aisles, with 14 columns in gray marble from San Vito and Billiemi and six chapels on each side with altars.
Inside the Cathedral there are valuable works of art: the marble Baptistery with a wooden dome in neoclassical style; the marble statue of San Tommaso, a masterpiece by Antonello Gagini; the Madonna del Popolo by Domenico Gagini; the marble icon of the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, the work of Bartolomeo Berrettaro and Antonello Gagini; the canvas by Antonello Riccio depicting the Presentation in the Temple. Inside the Cathedral of Marsala it is also possible to notice the suggestive presence of numerous sarcophagi that contain the bodies of ancient illustrious people who lived in Marsala several centuries ago, such as philosophers, procurators, bishops and many other historical figures.