Palermo – Day 3 – Part 5 – Oratories and Other Sacred Spots

Beginning in 1714, the illustrious dead of the area were buried in the crypt of the Chiesa di San Matteo.  The bodies were placed in the marble niches, with marble “pillows” on which their heads rested.  In 1787, the remains were moved into common ossuaries inside the church.

The Palazzo Rudinì dates from approximately 1760, and was built for Giuseppe Maria Giurato.  It was purchased in the early 19th century by the Starrabba family, who were marquesses of Rudinì, hence its name.  The Starrabba coat of arms is still visible above the portal.

As we came to Via Maqueda, #206, we noticed that the doors were open, and there was a ticket seller sitting at a small table.  Well, that certainly piqued our interest, so we went in.  As it turns out, we were at the Oratorio della Carità di San Pietro, or the Saint Peter’s Oratory of Charity, which was founded in 1736, by the priest, Giovanni Merlo.  The purpose of the congregation was to help those priests who had suffered injustices and poverty during the periods that Sicily was ruled by infidels, as well as to provide its members with a place to rest, and a burial at the time of their death.  The congregation is still in existence to this day.

One enters the oratory through a lovely green courtyard, with a monument to those who have lost their lives at sea.  Take a few minutes, and enjoy the lovely surroundings, before entering the oratory!  There are remains of frescoes, as well as an old bell, and other Roman artifacts.  After you have experienced the courtyard for a few minutes, then, head upstairs into the lovely oratory!  The painted decoration inside the oratory is the work of the Flemish artist, Guglielmo Borremans.

Nearby, at Via Maqueda, # 220, you will find the Chiesa di Santa Ninfa dei Crociferi, which dates from 1601.

The high altar features the painting of the Santa Ninfa, by Gioacchino Martorana.  This is one of the largest oil paintings in  existence, and is alone worth taking the time to visit the church, even though there are plenty of other beautiful works of art inside.

In the Cappellone di San Camillo de Lellis, who was the founder of the church, is a reliquary that contains a few relics of the saint, as well as a wax bust that was made right after his death.


Next up: We continue our third day in Palermo, with a visit to an anti-Mafia museum!


Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations that may appear.  If you have enjoyed this post, please, check out our archives for more posts from Palermo, as well as other Italian destinations.  Grazie!


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