Historic building of Fardella, Church dedicated to St. Anthony of Padova
Categoria: MONUMENTAL HISTORICAL BUILDINGS
The first record of the Mother Church is from 1704. A chapel dedicated to the patron saint, St Anthony, was perhaps initially built and the current complex was then extended. Until 1912, it still lacked an organ, which was to be built near the main entrance, behind the facade. Not much of its original design remains today and it has been rebuilt several times. After the first works at the end of the 1700s, it seemed to be very unstable, to the point that in 1816 new structural works were required: the site was “open on all sides and was exposed to scorn of water, snow and wind in every direction, until the sacred furnishings were drenched with the stormy rain and water flowed on the floor”. With the population’s efforts, it was rebuilt and gradually brought back to its former glory, especially the large chapel dedicated to the patron saint. Records from 1834 report stucco ornaments and paintings with the image of the saint and the symbols of the miracles during his lifetime. The whole church had barrel vaults and was rebuilt after additional damage following the 1857 earthquake.
Up to the 20th century, the complex had two aisles and a nave, and there are photographs showing us the main facade: the right aisle was not set back from the nave (as it instead is now). Together, they formed one facade featuring pilasters, a trabeation with metopas and triglyph, and two small portals. The aisle one was smaller and topped by an oculus.
As customary, this church too was used as a burial site: the aisles featured the private tombs of wealthy families, while the nave was the ‘mass grave’, and the consecrated were placed under the presbytery. The practice continued until 1884, when the cemetery was built based on the project of engineer Pisani from Lauria. The building currently has a presbytery, with no apse, facing north-west and a south-east entrance, not overlooking the current main square, Piazza Emanuele Gianturco, but Piazza Municipio, the real centre of religious, political and business life of the town. The neoclassical facade consists of two superimposed orders, ending with a triangular gable. The lower order with six pilasters with a base and capital standing on a plinth. On top of the Doric capitals is a trabeation consisting of an architrave, frieze and cornice. The metopas feature alternating daisies and lilies, with a strong reference to the patron saint who is always represented, in sacred iconography, with lilies. The upper order consists of four pilasters with Ionic capitals, on top of which is a full trabeation with an angel in the middle of the frieze, followed by a central window. It is worth mentioning the entry portal, made with local stone and with spiral motifs at the bottom, lilies at the top and a slightly protruding keystone featuring the words “1823 Nel Sindacato de S.r Pietro Donato” (“In 1823 in the town of Mayor Pietro Donato), which was probably the year it was built.
Over the years, and following the latest reconstruction works, the inside of the church has been deeply changed: the 20th-century marble banister separating the presbytery from the aisles is no longer in place.
The church now has a Latin-cross plan, with two aisles and a nave separated by large pillars.
The rectangular presbytery does not have an apse. The nave and the presbytery, connected by a large round arch, have a flat roof. The two large chapels of the transept are covered with barrel vaults. The aisles have different cross vaults, the ones on the right feature trompe l'oeils, with the ribs clearly marked and a flower in the connecting point, while the ones on the left have a simple structure.
At the entrance, recessed in the right wall, is a 19th-century stoup, decorated with an ovolo pattern and a putto in the centre that, together with the two spiral elements, seems to be holding up the stoup.
The anonymous fresco in the large chapel dedicated to the patron saint portrays the appearance of Christ as an infant to the saint. It presumably dates back to the 20th century. Consolidation and restoration works in 2016 revealed finely rendered angels that had been covered following various works: the niche of the statue is framed with stucco drapery.
The altar, built in the 1950s, features polychrome marble and a canopy held up by four marble columns ending with dome covered with gold tesserae.
The presbytery on the right leads to the bell tower erected before 1925, as stated in the inscription under the image of the patron saint (“Holy Year 1925”) thanks to the donations of those who had emigrated to the US. Renovated in 2016, it features the war memorial on the side overlooking the square and the image of the saint right above. The last floor, with its hexagonal floor plan, is distinctive and alternates a full and an empty arched side housing the bells.