Located near the village of the same name, the Cattolica di Stilo lies on the slopes of the rocky Monte Consolino and is one of the most beautiful churches in Calabria, bearing witness to the pure and authentic expression of Byzantine architecture. Not a majestic building, but rather a simple temple whose origins date back to the 10th century, when the Eastern monks moved to Calabria and gave rise to a fruitful cultural exchange. The definition of “Cattolica” presumably hails from the Greek word Katholikon, which designates the main church within a monastic complex.
Immersed in an evocative natural landscape, this temple with oriental characteristics once held great religious and social relevance. Externally, the red colour of the bricks unites with the mortar, generating an elegant chromatic play, with the façade dominated by four domes. The model of the Cattolica di Stilo is based on an inscribed cross, with a square layout featuring three apses in the central part, then divided into 9 equal sections by 4 columns of different shape and type, which – legend has it – were transported by four young girls. The predisposition of the light sources ensures the space is well illuminated in the early hours of the day whilst providing the structure with greater vertical momentum. Of particular interest are the frescoes rediscovered by the archaeologist Paolo Orsi, who was commissioned to undertake restorations in the first decades of the 20th century, and subsequently by other scholars following in his footsteps. Amongst these, one standout is the iconography of the Dormitio Virginis – the Sleeping Madonna – that depicts the final period the Virgin Mary’s life, surrounded by the Apostles on her death bed.
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