Church of Santa Caterina di Alexandria

The church hall of Saint Catherine of Alexandria of Egypt Virgin and Martyr in Termini Imerese it has been documented since the beginning of the fifteenth century. In fact, already in the most ancient registers of notar Giuliano Bonafede of Termini Imerese (1408-1409), mention is made of said cult building, located in the plan of the Tell us o Barlasci (Arabization of Greek Perilasion, amphitheater, in reference to the Roman ruins of this ancient work), so its foundation must be referred to at least the previous century.

The church must have shown signs of age, so much so that it was extensively repaired in the second half of the fifteenth century. In fact, a deed of notary Enrico La Tegera dated October 1478 mentions the church of Santa Caterina as "newly built".

The facade is characterized by the presence of the ogival portal, in yellowish calcarenite, decorated on the top by a sculpted architectural aedicule, adorned by an entablature supported by two columns with two adoring angels at the sides. The aedicule, which appears to be supported by two telamons, shows the Saint with the usual iconographic attributes (royal clothes, crowned head, scriptures in her left hand, as well as the toothed wheel, symbol of torture, the palm she holds in her right hand, symbol of martyrdom).

A peculiar element of the church building is the cycle of frescoes (embellished with captions in Sicilian of the time) which unfortunately is only partially preserved, being preserved exclusively on the side walls, while originally it extended over the entire mural surface, depicting on two orders , the salient episodes of the life, martyrdom and miracles of the Egyptian Saint.

The paternity of this cycle, based on the attribution proposal of the historian Msgr. Gioacchino Di Marzo (Palermo, 1839 - 1916), was referred to the brothers Nicolò and Giacomo Graffeo, two painters active in Termini Imerese between the seventies of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century. 

However, this attribution is not supported by probative data, so it has recently been proposed to assign the entire cycle to an unknown fresco artist, the "Master of the cycle of S. Caterina d'Alessandria in Termini Imerese".

At the end of the first half of the sixteenth century the fresco of the Calvary of Christ, painted on the counter-façade (unfortunately we have it mutilated). In fact, as the polygraph Baldassare Romano (Termini Imerese, 1794 - 1857) attests, it bore the execution date 1546.

The work. already attributed by Di Marzo to the caccamese friar Nicolò Spalletta, recently it has instead been referred to the sculptor, architect and painter Giuseppe Spatafora senior.

Since the sixteenth century it is documented that the church was the seat of a confraternity dedicated to the eponymous saint.

In 1860, the building was used as a barracks for the Italian National Guard and the frescoes suffered numerous damages.

Subsequently, the deputies of the local civic museum, in an attempt to save a part of the frescoes, entrusted the painter Michele Ciofalo (Termini Imerese, 1839 - 1913) with the detachment, consolidation and transport on canvas of two of these paintings, depicting respectively Infant Saint Catherine of Alexandria presented to her parents e The beheading of the empress and her ladies, to be preserved and exhibited in the museum structure.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the church, reopened for worship, had its rector, the priest Salvatore Fatta (1905-1914). During the First World War, the building, reduced to profane use, was used as a grain store.

After the Great War, it was once again open for worship under the rectory of the priest Pietro Barba, still documented in the XNUMXs.

In the seventies it was occasionally used, hosting some impromptu art exhibitions on the occasion of events related to thetermite August.

The restorations, which began in the nineties, were finally completed in 2004.