Church of St. Martin

Church of St. Martin

The original church of St. Martin, of small size, was probably founded by count Ruggero (Roger) the Norman and renovated during the Gothic period; rebuilt and enlarged in 1682, it was further refurbished in the 18th century and decorated with stuccoes and frescoes by the Manno brothers.

The church, for its historical, artistic and religious importance, also served over the centuries, as Main Church, when the latter was unable to do that; furthermore, it was the witness of local political events during the Risorgimento (from the early 19th century to the unification of Italy, 1861).

The facade is very simple and it is enriched by the presence of a 18th century portal with a tympanum  bearing the effigy of the Saint. The interior has a basilical plan with two rows of Tuscan columns, transept, dome and covering of the central nave with a lunetted barrel vault. Particularly interesting is the paving in part composed of tombstones of the 17th and 18th centuries: now the remaining part is covered by majolica tiles, reproducing the original 17th century design (original only in proximity of the side altars).

In the third altar is an interesting sixteenth century painting on slate, depicting the Madonna delle Grazie (Our Lady of Graces), modified in the 18th century to look like the image of the Madonna of Custonaci.

The square apse houses: a wooden Rococò style choir (1761) by Leonardo Castelli from Parma, also author of the pulpit.

Adjacent to the sacristy is the Hall of the Purgatory Congregation, a snug Rococò style oratory dating back to the 18th century, decorated with stuccoes and frescoes by Antonio Manno; interesting is its furniture with an altar and seats leaning to the wall, in painted wood. Also interesting the small adjacent cloister dating back to the 16th century.
Today the spaces adjacent to the church house an important collection of wooden sculptures, including the group formed by the St. Martin on horseback (1556) by Gianmatteo Curatolo from Erice.