A Byzantine Gem: The Cattolica of Stilo
Greeks, Byzantines, Normans, Bourbons and more, have chosen over history this corner of the earth to settle. A region with a singular history in the Italian panorama, since 554 A.D. and for over five centuries, Calabria has represented a land that more than others has had influences from the East. Especially under Byzantine rule, Calabria integrated with this new world in a very strong way, for example in terms of religiosity.
Stilo is a key city in Calabria’s history, a small village with an interesting past at its back, having been the leading Byzantine centre of the region. A hamlet nested in the hills, near the sea, birthplace of a number of revered Calabrians, like the philosopher Tommaso Campanella and moreover home to one of the few remaining Byzantine temples in Italy. This important legacy dates back to the X-XI centuries and it has become an important attraction for this part of Calabria.
The incongruity of the temple with the location, this mountainous part of southern Italy, is stunning. The Cattolica is tucked in the steep side of Monte Consolino, a huge rocky mountain above Stilo. Despite its small size, it is the most representative classical Byzantine monument in Southern Italy and its picturesque red-brick structure replicates a type of religious building common in the Peloponnesus.
This temple is the symbol of Stilo in the world, from the historical, monumental and religious point of view. The importance from the historical point of view also lies in the fact that it is a Byzantine site ascribed to a period of transition between Byzantine and Norman art. The church has more than one fresco dating back to the XII-XV centuries, all well preserved. The architecture and the interior, the frescoes, the light that penetrates inside this intimate space have a great sense of transcendence, something that seems to bring you closer to God and is well worth a visit.
Francesca Politi - JUMP Team
Cattolica Monastery in Stilo and Basilian-Byzantine Complexes
Cattolica di Stilo – RAI STORIA
Cattolica, STILO (RC) – FAI
Photo Courtesy of Alfina and Mario Tassone