Cathedral of Santa Maria dell'Isodia


Bova - Cattedrale normanna - Esterno - Foto Enzo Galluccio

The Co-Cathedral of Bova, or Cattedrale di Santa Maria dell’Isodia, is situated in a position higher up that the rest of the historic centre next to the outcrop of the ancient castle.

From the Town Hall, a series of narrow streets leads up to what has been called one of Italy’s most beautiful villages.

The cathedral is basilican in form and contains a central nave and two side-aisles, centred around the original ninth-century nucleus, later enlarged and modified in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and rebuilt and restored after the earthquakes of 1783 and 1908. The main façade contains three orders of pilasters enclosing a late-Baroque portal.

The central nave, with a beamed wooden ceiling, has an elongated choir on its eastern side and on a higher level, accessed by means of a wide staircase. In the apse stands an imposing altar surmounted by a niche housing the statue of the Madonna della Presentazione [Our Lady of the Presentation]. Arranged along the two aisles are a number of chapels, the last two of which are larger and dedicated, one to the Assumption, the other to the Blessed Sacrament.

The other smaller side chapels are dedicated to the Madonna del Rosario [Our Lady of the Rosary] (left aisle), to the Crucifix and to the Madonna Ausiliatrice [Out Lady of Good Succour] (right nave). A door in the right aisle leads to the sacristy once used as the Chapter’s assembly room. A choir loft, supported by two pillars, stands above the main entrance.

In 1978 the cathedral adapted to the liturgical reforms introduced by the Second Vatican Council by having a basilican altar constructed here, care of the Diocesan Technical Office.

Recent refurbishing makes this Cathedral a unique place charged with sacrality.

Principal works of art

Exterior: the main portal embellished by two stone pillars with small capitals, cornices and spandrels while in the stone doorpost there is a frame containing the coat of arms of the last bishop of Bova; the late-seventeenth-century side door, in decorated stone, bears an inscription on the architrave recalling the former entrance to the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament.

The bell-tower, a twentieth-century construction, is separate from the main building and faces the terrace overlooking the town centre.

Interior: the Vergine con Bambino [Virgin and Child] on the altar of Bova’s Cattedrale dell’Isodia rests on a base which acts as a figurative tabernacle, bearing the symbol of Bova, an ox, flanked by angels and an inscription stating the year it was created (1584) along with the name of the artist Reinaldus Bonanno, who until recently was the presumed author of the work. The inscription also bears the names of the patrons: local prelates and mayors, the archbishop of Reggio, Gaspare del Fosso (1560-1592) and bishop Marcello Franco (1577-1587), whose coat of arms embellishes both sides of the base. Today the statue appears as a half bust, badly sawn off at the bottom, and for this reason, resting on a thick wooden board acting as a cushion between the statue and the plinth. It is most likely that at one time the statue was full length, in keeping with the rest of the later-mannerist artist’s works. However, following a traumatic event, the statue’s original shape was altered and its stability irredeemably compromised, so the break lines were levelled as best as possible , and the remaining bust placed on its wooden support. We know, in actual fact, that during the second half of the seventeenth century, the bishop, Marcantonio Contestabile, decided to place the work inside a walled altar, the same one which still stands at the end of the rectangular apse. It is to bishop Giovanni Camerota (1590-1620) that we owe the silver crowns made in Messima, that adorn the Madonna and the Christ Bambino.

The 1849 half bust of Ecce Homo [Behold the Man] is the companion piece of the Vergine addolorata [Our Lady of Sorrows], it too a half bust. Bishop Vincenzo Rozzolino (1849-1850) probably commissioned Neapolitan artists to sculpt the two statues, housed today in the right-aisle chapel of the Isodia cathedral, seeing that he was a native of Naples.

The description of the works inside the Cathedral are by Pasquale Faenza.

Tipo Risorsachiese

how to reach us

Da Reggio Calabria, percorrere la SS106, raggiungere in direzione Sud l'abitato di Bova Marina ed imboccare la strada che conduce a Bova.


Comune di Bova -