Il convento dei frati cappuccini
From Piazza Rizzone at the beginning of Corso Umberto I, take via Vittorio Veneto and shortly thereafter turn right to start along via Nuova Sant’Antonio, the uphill road that leads to the Dente district of Modica. At the second hairpin bend, turn left and take a path surrounded by tall cypresses.
The Convent of the Capuchin Friars and the annexed Church of San Francesco d’Assisi, both from the eighteenth century, stand out in front of us in a perfect state of conservation. The convent has a paved cloister with striking local stone slabs and a well in the center, typical of Franciscan structures. The Church houses two sculptural masterpieces in gilded wood, a reliquary and the custody of the SS. Sacrament.
The Capuchins arrived in Modica in 1556. In fact, on August 30, 1556, the General Council of the city undertook to host the friars and provide for their livelihood by official deed. The original site where they settled was at the church of San Sebastiano, a place that took the name of “San Francesco alla Cava”.
In 1570, work began on the construction of the new convent, in the western part of the city, near the pre-existing church dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie; they moved here in 1573.
During the plague epidemic, which pervaded all of Sicily in 1576, and which also struck the city of Modica, claiming numerous victims, the Capuchin friars dedicated themselves to the invaluable service of plague victims in the hospitals.
The earthquake that struck the Val di Noto in 1693, damaged but did not destroy the building, which was restored and enlarged by Father Arcangelo da Modica in the first half of the eighteenth century, with the exception of the small church, which was demolished and rebuilt larger.
With the suppression of religious orders in 1866, the convent became state property. Repurchased in 1892, it was the seat of the Provincial Curia until 1932.
Over the years, on several occasions, the convent has been chosen as a place of formation: novitiate, post-novitiate, philosophical and theological studentate.
The church, dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie, has a very special balustrade, in black Ragusa stone, 79 centimeters high, which runs along the sides of the church from the presbytery and separates the nave from the six side altars.
The Major altarpiece, attributed to Michelangelo Cerruti (18th century), portrays the Immaculate Conception with Franciscan saints (San Francesco and Santa Chiara). Placed behind the canvas, in a large chapel, is the statue of the Madonna with Child, surrounded by a group of well-made wooden statues called Paradise.
The case is of considerable value, in the shape of a Renaissance temple, an expression of the 18th century Capuchin wooden craftsmanship.
Good walk !