It is a sign of the immense ecclesiastical, cultural and religious heritage of Sicily that there are so many Sanctuaries. These are sacred places that host testimonies of the highest order, and their memory is kept secretly by the local communities to inspire faith travelers and cultural trips.
We recommend a list of the most attractive sanctuaries. These sanctuaries are well-known for their connection to sacred events as well as their historical and artistic worth.
The Sanctuary of Maria Ss is located in Catania, a city dedicated to the culto de Sant’Agata. di Valverde is linked to the conversion of Dionisio, a brigand, after the Virgin Mary apparition in this area in 1038.
Contrada Mompilieri’s evocative Sanctuary of Madonna della Sciara, in Mascalucia, recalls the 1669 eruption which completely submerged the original shrine beneath a thick layer of incandescent volcanic lava. After many years of futile excavations in search of the Madonna’s valuable statue, a marble work by Antonello Gagini was discovered. The precious sculpture was unharmed. This is the actual, small church that was dedicated to Virgin Mary. It’s called “Madonna della Sciara” (sciara = lava). You can still see the cave from which the statue was found. The Sanctuary is a place of spirituality and silence.
The Trecastagni is home to the Sanctuary for the Saints brothers Alfio Filadelfo, Cirino, and Filadelfo. It dates back to the middle 17th century. The central nave was built on top of the remains of an ancient aedicule, which the first Christians constructed at the same site that these Martyrs stopped to rest during their journey to Lentini 252. This place of worship is a historical landmark because of the complex events surrounding their lives, burial, and finding their bodies.
The Sanctuary of Madonna del Ponte was constructed in Caltagirone 573, one year after the Blessed Virgin Mary’s appearance to a deaf-mute baby. The image of the sacred image with Baby Jesus in her lap appeared miraculously as a reflection of the water from an ancient source. It is now embedded in the Sanctuary within a chapel where pilgrims continue to draw miracle water.
Millions of pilgrims visit the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Lacrime every year in Siracusa. The remarkable event that led to the creation of the weeping statue cult (an enameled, plaster bust), dates back to 1953 when human tears started to run down the Virgin’s cheeks.
The current Sanctuary was built in the middle of the city in the 1960s to provide a suitable place for the Madonna’s statue. It boasts innovative architectural features and is approximately 103m high. It can accommodate over 15,000 people.
The Sanctuary de Madonna della Scala del Paradiso, an 18th-century structure built upon the remains of a pre-existing church that was destroyed in the 1693 earthquake, is located near Old City. The Madonna is depicted on the Madonna’s lap with the baby Jesus and ladder on her right. This symbolically refers to the cult.
Augusta offers a stunning view of Mount Etna. Here we also find The Sanctuary of Santa Maria Adonai. A fresco depicting the Madonna with the Holy Child supporting a cross is found inside. From the original cave, the small rural church was constructed.
The cult of San Spirididione is still alive in Ragusa. This can be seen by the presence of simulacra that are dedicated to the Saint. The Sanctuary of Madonna del Carmine is the most well-known, while the Scicli Sanctuary of Madonna delle Milizie dates back to the year 1000 and is a stunning example of Byzantine art.
Some scholars believe that the Sanctuary of Maria Ss. di Gulfi is located in Chiaramonte Gulfi. Some scholars claim it dates back to fourth century. Others state that it may be even more recent than the Greek city Akrillai. A headstone in the church’s current church recalls St. Gregory The Great’s visit. He left his knee impression while he walked on the step in front the Nativity Altar. Legend has it that the Madonna statue is from Constantinople. It was realized during the iconoclastic fury. It would have miraculously landed on the shoreline between Santa Croce Camerina and Scoglitti, having mysteriously survived.
Trapani is home to one of the most significant and symbolic Christian places, the Catalan-Gothic Santuario dilla Madonnadedicated the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmelo. It houses a marble statue measuring 165 cm tall of the Madonna, which Nino Pisano sculpted. Also, there is a statue that contains the relics from Saint Alberto of Trapani, the city’s patron saint.
The Shrine of Blessed Virgin Mary of Paradise is located in Mazara del Vallo. It’s a symbol of the deep devotion of the locals to the Virgin Mary, since the 18th Century. The cult grew significantly when the statue of Our Lady, which was kept in the Chapel of the Holy House Paradise during three miraculous days, began to gaze towards the faithful while they were praying.
You can reach the Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia in Palermo by following the scenic and beautiful road that leads to Monte Pellegrino. It was built around the 17th century and is located near the Mount, where Santa Rosalia’s bones were discovered on July 15, 1624. It is quite distinctive. From its 1600-foot facade, we enter the Sanctuary and find a beautifully constructed vestibule. A dome opens towards the sky shortly after. Finally, an iron gate takes us into the Sanctuary’s “heart”. After the miracle of June 1625 when Santa Rosalia’s bones walked through the streets, the plague victims were healed, and Palermo was saved, Santa Rosalia was made Palermo’s Patron Saint. The Palermitani have called her ” a Santuzza” since then.
The Sanctuary de Madonna del Rosario is always found in Palermo’s suburbs. It is dedicated to the patron saint for whole Sicily and venerated all over the region. The Sanctuary of Santa Maria di Gesu is another important example of architecture, which was built in 500 by the Jesuits.
The Altavilla Milicia contains a painting that dates back to the second half of 14 century. It has been repeatedly restored. The last activities restored the original image, which shows the Madonna crowned sitting on a throne, Baby Jesus on her knees, and St. Francesco looking at him. His right hand points to the faithful kneeling at the feet of the Madonna.
The Sanctuary of Maria SS. del Rosario di Tagliavia is located in Corleone and belongs to the Diocese Of Monreale. The same spot where the Sanctuary stands today was the location where the image of Our Lady of the Rosary was discovered at the beginning of the 19th century. Popular tradition says that such a spot was home to a spring of water believed to be healing. Any animal who drank from the spring would immediately recover, according to legend.
The Gangi is one of the most picturesque villages in Italy. It’s home to the Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. This story tells the story of a farmer who lost his hearing and miraculously gained it back. While digging a well one day, he came across a boulder that looked like an image of God with a dove on its chest. The stone was bleeding and the man noticed it. He was stunned and screamed for the miracle. A church was then built.
The Sanctuary Madonna del Ponte in Partinico is a Christian destination that has been welcoming visitors for centuries. It features a charming ceramic staircase leading to the beautiful place of worship, which is surrounded by nature.
The Sanctuary for Gibilmanna can be found in the rural area surrounding Cefalu. It is a place of tranquility and spirituality. Antonello Gagini attributed many statues to the Virgin Mary inside, including one simulacrum for the Holy Mary Queen of Paradise. According to legend, the Vatican crowned a blind and mute man with the help of the crowns. This was during a service attended hundreds of faithful.
The Monreale is located inside the Basilica of Santa Maria la Nuova. Here, a statue of a crowned Madonna with a Child is revered. The Feast of Madonna del Popolo is a Monreale tradition that dates back to 17th century.
The Sanctuary of San Calogero al Monte is a Minor Basilica that has been located in the province of Agrigento. It can be found on the top of a mountain offering a stunning view. According to tradition, this cave is where San Calogero, the hermit, used to rest. It’s now located below the church. The old Saint Calogero is depicted on a majolica panel at the altar with a wounded deer to his right and a praying archer to his left. An eighteenth century wooden case, which was created by Gagini, houses a statue depicting San Calogero.
The Sanctuary of the Beata Maria Vergine del Soccorso is also located in Sciacca. It dates back to 1108. After the collapse of its facade in 1656, restoration work was done to its Norman foundations. However, the apses as well as the Gothic arches were saved. The church was rebuilt according to the plans of Michele Blasco in 1656-1686. It has a Baroque-style facade that is still unfinished.
Naro is an ancient village in Agrigento. The Sanctuary San Calogero has become a favorite destination for many faithful. They offer special bread shapes to the black Saint Simulacrum, which reproduces the body parts, as a thanks for their healing. San Calogero is actually worshipped as a holy healer and thaumaturge.
The Cathedral of Messina is actually the Sanctuary of St.Mary of the Assumption. It was built in the year 1000. Inside it, we find a treasure trove of art, including works by Antonello Gagini and a portrait by Fra ‘Gregorio. Also, the high altar with a golden copper canopy and a pipe organ that is said to be Europe’s second-largest.
The Sanctuary to Our Lady of Lourdes is also found in Messina. It was rebuilt in 1954 after the 1908 earthquake. Today, it houses the students of philosophy, theology, and theology of the Sicily Friars Minor Order. In the 1960s, a faithful replica of the grotto de Lourdes was constructed right next to it.
The Sanctuary Madonna di Montalto, always in Messina is situated on a hill just before the Duomo square. It is a combination of Gothic and Romanesque styles. The church was faithfully rebuilt to earthquake standards. The large churchyard offers a great view of the Strait of Messina, the city, and all its major monuments.
The Sanctuary Monastery of Montevergine is now dedicated to Santa Eustochia Smeralda. Sister Eustochia Calafato (nee Smeralda) took the vows at the age of 15 despite threats from her parents to burn the convent. She lived in poverty, penance, and slept on the ground while wearing the cilice. It was amazing to see how her body survived after five centuries. It is kept in a monastery in a glass case.
The view from the Holy Mother of Madonna della Rocca is particularly impressive. It is located in Taormina and is at the top of an old staircase. The sanctuary is built into limestone rock and stands in front of the Ionian Sea. It is surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation. The faithful are deeply affected by the cult of Virgin Mary. They carry her effigy on procession every Sunday in September and end the celebrations with a delicious feast.
The Sanctuary of the Black Madonna is located at the eastern end of Tindaripromontory. It overlooks the sea and offers a view of the Aeolian Islands, Marinello Reserve and the Aeolian Islands.
In 1544, the Algiers pirates destroyed the church and rebuilt it in 1598. It was expanded in 1979 to accommodate the pilgrims and tourists.
Perhaps the famous statue is from the East. It is connected to a legend. A storm drove the ship carrying the Black Madonna into Tindari. Even though the weather was improving, the ship could not sail further until the sailors left their valuable cargo at the local abbey. The current Sanctuary is located in that spot.
The Sanctuary of Jesus the Redeemer can be found in Caltanissetta. As the base for the statue of Jesus the Redeemer, the small chapel has a square plan. Ernesto Basile (son of Giovan Battista Filippi Basile) designed the work.
The Sanctuary of the Ss. is located in the former Castel Belici fiefdom. It can be found just a few kilometers from Marianopoli. Crocifisso di Belici is the pilgrimage destination for thousands during the celebrations on 3 May. Fra Innocenzo di Petralia (seventeenth-century pupil) is the one who kept the crucifix inside. Popular tradition says that a young shepherd hid in a cave near the current Sanctuary during a Belice flood. He carved the Crucifix while he waited, which was miraculously completed in the middle of the night.
The evocative Sanctuary of the SS is located in Enna. The Crucifix of Papardura was partly constructed in rock. It has rich decorations including stuccoes from Serpotta school and a coffered wood roof. The beautiful valley below can be seen from the small, cozy church.
The Sanctuary for St. Philip the Apostle is dedicated to the Saint, who is celebrated each year on May 1st with a procession of his statue along the city’s center. Local tradition has the faithful making vows by rubbing the zigareddi (strips made of colored cloth) on his statue to make it possible for them to return next year.
Agira is where the Sanctuary for San Filippo d’Agira was built upon an old monastery that was established by the Basilian friars over the San Filippo sepulcher. The saint, an oriental priest, was sent to Sicily in order to spread the gospel. He lived with his disciples in the monastery where his remains were discovered in 1599. The original layout of the building has been altered several times over the years. While the facade was constructed in the early decades of the twentieth century, the interior dates back to 18th-century. Cavea is the name of the crypt where the relics were discovered.