History of "San Salvatore" Church - Monopoli  E-mail

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Pianta Chiesa "San Salvatore"


Crocifisso ligneo

Folk tradition says that the church was built by a captain of a pirate ship who escaped with his crew on a shipwreck and, for this reason, the church is facing on the sea and is dedicated to “San Salvatore”. The Church of “San Salvatore in Pittagio Pinnae” (pittáchion means board where it was written the name of the quarter) has an history that begins in the early Christian age (3rd – 4th century). However, the early Christian church is an unsolved mystery: maybe it was placed to the right hand of the choir [1], where there is still an opening part of the old construction. Besides, the church is mentioned in the bull of Alexander III of 1180. In the 16th century there was a testimony of two uncommon visits: on 16th March 1566 the Bishop Fabio Pignatelli (1561-1569) visited the church and it was the first council of Trent visit, since Pignatelli took part to this Council; the second visit, then, was between 1567 and 1568: the apostolic visitor Tommaso Orfini, BishopCrocifisso e Santi of Foligno, visited the church and we know that the church was in restoration during bishop’s visit. The church of “San Leone “, placed near “Porta Foca” was destroyed during the wears of 1528-1529, and in the 1594 the church was legally unified by Mons. Antonio Ponzio to “San Salvatore”;  the church received the most part of goods of “San Leone” (the remaining part of goods went in “Sant’Angelo in Burgo” church ), and so, “San Salvatore” had stylistics and toponymy result. The new front door and the sacristy were built in 1622, while two paintings were realised in 1682. Maybe a painting is "Crocifisso e Santi" (Crucifix and Saints) made by the minor clerk and painter Vito Antonio Mariani, the real author of a painting in the Mother Church of “Fasano” and for many works on the icon of  “ Madonna della Madia”. This oil painting represents Christ Crucified between “San Leone Magno (on his left) and Saint Francis (on his right)”. The painting was placed on the right, on the third altar, “the altar of the Crucifix of “San Salvatore”. It was restored in 1980, and today it is in the church of “Santa Teresa”. In 1707 a part of the church was rebuilt by the abbot-priest Francesco Pittore, who provided at one’s own expense for the rebuilding. In 1708 the front door was rebuild. In 1711Cena di Emmaus the church was full of paintings, after the death of don Onofrio Gentile and for incur debts with “San Salvatore”. The church had four paintings: “Our Lady of Sorrows with Christ in the bosom of her” , the painting of “San Filippo Neri”, the painting “The Supper at Emmaus” and the painting of  “Sant’Anna”. All the paintings were placed over the choir. In particular, the painting “La cena di Emmaus” (The Supper at Emmaus) is an oil painting of the last 16th century made by an uncertain painter. It represents Christ in “fractio panis” between two disciples and figures in the shade, at the bottom of the image. This painting was restored in 1980, too; it was over the choir in 1904 and today it is in the church of “Santa Trasfigurazione di nostro SignoreTeresa”. In the same year (1711) Andrea Maglionico painted “Trasfigurazione di Nostro Signore” (The Transfiguration of our Christ), an oil painting with Christ on the top, the two Prophets “Elia” and “Mosé” and Angels; “Pietro, Giacomo and Giovanni” at the bottom and the dove in the centre of the image, the symbol of the Holy Spirit; on the left there is the Eternal Father. This painting was placed on the 2nd altar on the left, “the Altar of Transfiguration” and it was restored in 1980, too. Today it is in the Diocesan Museum. In 1715 a new organ was made by Pietro de Simone, commissioned the 17 June 1714. In the same year (1715) two paintings were commissioned for the altars of the church, that hadn’t a painting. Two oil paintings were made, probably, by Solimena or an unknown painter of Naples. A painting is “Trinità e Santi Gennaro, Francesco di Sales, Biagio, Carlo” (The Holy Trinity and San Gennaro, Francesco di Sales, Biagio, Carlo) Trinità e Santi Gennaro, Francesco di Sales, Biagio, Carlothat represents the four Saints with on the top the Holy Trinity; it was placed on the first altar, on the left, the altar called “San Francesco of Sales”. The other painting is “S. Michele e Santa Eudocia” (San Michele and Santa Eudocia), that represents “Santa Eudocia” on herself knees with different jewels on the ground; “San Michele” up, on the left and the two angels on the right. The painting was placed on the 3rd altar on the left, the altar called of “San Michele”. The two oil paintings were restored in 1980 and today they are in the Diocesan Museum. The new wooden choir was made in 1720, while it was ordered to demolish the tumbledown bell-tower in 1723. On 23 March 1728 the abbot Francesco Paolo de Valeriis (rector and priest, in this period, of San Salvatore), baptized Giacomo Insanguine (1728- 1795), a well- known composer, organist and Italian teacher [2]. There were works in the sacristy of the church in 1742, while the high altar was ready in 1746; it was commissioned from Aniello Gentile in 1744, the artist of a high altar in the Church of “Santa Croce” to Lecce. This work covered up the choir, and for this reason, it was add about a span of high to the choir and it was modified with two windows, to illuminate more the choir.S. Michele e Santa Eudocia
The baptismal font was moved near the front door in 1753, and the stonework altars were rebuild between 1780 and 1781. In 1904 Mons. Di Costanzo visited the church and so, thanks to documents, we have information about the seven altars: the high altar is in marble but the other six altars are in tuff “aliter pietra morta”. There are the altars of “Sant’Anna, Santa Maria delle Grazie” and the “Crucifix” on the right, while there are the altars of “San Francesco of Sales” , “Transfiguration” and “ San Michele” on the left. In 1921 there was a last visit to the church by Mons. Monterisi and he decided to transfer the Church of “San Salvatore” (and the annexed church of San Leone) to “Sant’Antonio” Church, ex-convent, with a rescript ,28 May 1918, decreed in the royal decree , 4th September 1919.
From the documents, it doesn’t result the state, during the centuries, of the many icons and of the great painted cross, (maybe of 14th century) that overlooked the choir of “San Salvatore”. The church, as all the places of faith, has many burials.
From local San Damianotestimonies, we have information about last fairs and events in the 50s, while in the 60s don Michele Lorusso, priest of “Santa Teresa” Church, opened the church to believers to say the rosary. In the following years the church and the sacristy were used in illicit way, as storehouse and joiner’s workshop. In 1974 then, the members of “CTG Egnatia di Monopoli” (Youth Tourist Center “Egnatia” of Monopoli) with the priest don Michele Lorusso, salvaged the valuable paintings of the church: “Transfiguration of Christ”, “Santa Penitente”, “Crucifix with Saints”, “Supper at Emmaus”, “S.s. Trinità with Saints – San Vito, S.Cosma, S.Damiano, Madonna della Pace with Saints” . On the contrary, there is nothing about the precious organ made by Pietro de Simone in 1715, since it was stolen recently.
After 36 years, 6 August 2010, the Association “Ctg” back to “San Salvatore” with don Vito Castiglione Minischetti, priest of “San’Antonio” Church. In few months the members of Ctg with Marcella Dibello and Cosimo Lamanna have realised events, concerts, guided tours and art Christmas crib ... San Salvatore back to life after decades of neglect! Volunteers of the center "Amici di San Salvatore" with sprint, diligence and constancy, try to win the greatest bet: give the beauty of the old time to the church again!





Prima messa - Inaugurazione del 6 Agosto 2010 Concerto barocca 3 ottobre 2010 Zampognani e presepe artistico - 21 dicembre 2010


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©Testo, traduzioni e immagini a cura dei volontari del centro "Amici di San Salvatore"



[1] “Chiesa di S. Salvatore a Monopoli – storia ed arte”, Graziano Bellifemine dalla collana di studi pugliesi “Monumenta Apuliae ac Japygiae” anno 1, n°1 – gennaio 1981 – SCHENA Editore;

[2] “Non oro, non gemme” – Giacomo Insanguine detto Monopoli, di Pierluca Lanzilotta – SCHENA Editore