On the main square of Civitavecchia, just before Corso Marconi, in the direction of Tarquinia, there rises the Cathedral dedicated to San Francis of Assisi
, built over a church that already existed and which the Franciscan fathers has built upon concession by Pope Paul V in 1610.
After more than a century from that date, the city began expanding and its population was in continuous increase; the church has therefore become too small and the need for a larger temple was beginning to be felt by the people. A new fact occurred that strengthened the projects that were already being prepared in this regard;
in fact, in 1769 Cardinal Lorenzo Ganganelli
became Pope and took the name of Clement XIV
; he belonged to a religious family of the same order as the Franciscan fathers who, spirited by this, requested that the Pope support the just needs of the population which, because of its development, felt a growing need for a larger church. The Holy Father, thinking that taking interest in our city would be useful for his office, granted the necessary funds and sent the then famous architect Francesco Navona
to direct the work on the new temple.
Hence a new church rose which, at a later date, became a Cathedral with a Bishops office.
It stands with its elegant and solid structure that document unique technical assessment; from the main door a large and comfortable descending stairway that spreads out into a fan-shape that takes in the entire front of the church. On the upper floor, where the gables rest, there are two large statues that represent Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Anthony from Padova.
When entering, the temple appears beautifully shaped, high, long and with only one aisle, decorated on both sides by symmetric chapels hollowed into the background, alternated by pillars that, with their bases and rich capitals, look like they are holding up the majestic royal dome that covers the entire premises.
A triumphal arch separates the large presbytery where there is a large altar made of beautiful marbles. Two wide columns, that are detached from the wall of the apses, majestically lift a beautiful gable from the ground, upon which rests the statues of Justice and Hope and under which, in a rich frame of golden stucco, is the fresco painting by Antonio Nessi which represents Saint Francis in the Verna while receiving the holy Stigmata.
The paintings in the chapels are not of any great value, except for the one in the center chapel, to the left when entering, which is very precious: it represents the Nativity of Our Lord
; it is attributed to the school of Domenico Zampieri, called the Domenican
The two bells in the tower are also of great historical value, since they were built using metal from the two cannons especially donated by the Pope. Since, after a few years, the need arose for a Bishops Office and consequently a Cathedral Church, and since the temple of San Francis was the largest and most appropriate in the city, upon mutual agreement with the Municipality, the Franciscan fathers obtained both church and convent which are still located in 'Piazza degli Eroi", leaving to the Municipality, who reserves the right of "jus patronato", the new church and convent to be used in part as the Bishop's residence and part as a Seminary.
Hence, in 1805, the Church of Saint Francis became the Cathedral of the Diocese of Civitavecchia.
This small church, with its remarkable construction in the form of a Greek cross, and simple and elegant architectonic lines, was built in the year 1685. It became the seat of the ancient and worshipful confraternity of Death, a well-deserving institution which has existed since the second half of the 1500s and still posses it.
The church was almost completely restored in the year 1702: it is round in shape and topped with an elliptical dome; it has three altars, the largest of which is located in front of the entrance and the other two, situated within well decorated chapels, are located one on one side and one on the other. Four symmetrical doors are placed all around and lead respectively to the chapel of the Holy Sacrament, the Oratory, the Sacristy and the Wardrobe.
Also to be admired are the valuable frescos by the famous Knight Giuseppe Errante of Trapani
, which decorate the inside of the dome and two status, carved in wood, which represent Christ Crucified and the Christ Risen.
This church is located in Piazza Leandra and it is probably one of the most ancient churches in Civitavecchia. It is the sear of the Archconfraternity of the Banner.
The company of the Banner began in Civitavecchia in the year 1274: a constant tradition has it that in fact Saint Bonaventura who in 1274 and by upon request of the Pope, needed to get to the General Council of Lyon had to stay one night in our city; on this occasion there were several requests from devotees to be written into the pious Union of those Recommended to the Sacred Virgin, founded in Rome in 1263 by Bonaventura himself. The institution then became known as the Company of the Banner since, with all the fighting, uprisings and turbulence that took place in Rome, in 1354 the brothers of the Recommended rushed in where the fight was most ferocious and managed to stop the massacres and calm things down again, in the name of the Virgin Mary and to show that the Holy Cross had to be the emblem, the flag and the banner for peace and justice.
Since the brotherhood wanted to create its own church and Oratory, it requested and obtained, in 1688 from the Ordinary of Civitavecchia Brancacci, the church of the Star which, at their expense, was expanded, beautified and enriched with rich sacred furnishings.
The inside if the church, apart from the precious furnishings, a wooden statue of the Virgin is particularly noteworthy.
There are various abandoned churches and monasteries in the area, most of which have been destroyed.
One which is particularly worthy of mention is:
the church of Saint John.
It was located at the Baths of Traiano and already existed in the times of Saint Gregorius Magnus (year 600) as surely evidenced by the precious writings left by the Saint which narrate that during those times the Baths were inhabited and that there was a church dedicated to Saint John, and that the territory belonged to Centocelle.
Of that church, which measured 23 meters long and 20 meters wide, there remains very little of the perimeter walls: however, the gracious, small bell tower built in romantic style still exists.
The monastery of the Trinity
It is situated in a picturesque location by the sea, near the Tower of Bertoldo, also known as Saint Augustine: it was founded by the Augustinians. Today it is completely destroyed, but in the XV century it still existed.
According to tradition, Saint Augustine sojourned in that Monastery for some time, and it was there that he received the miraculous answer to the mystery of the Holy Trinity.