Church of Our Lady of Porto Salvo


Melito PS - Santuario Maria SS. di Portosalvo - Foto Enzo Galluccio

Principal works of art

The painting of the Madonna di Porto Salvo, which stands on the altar of the church of the in Porto Salvo, depicts the Madonna and Child while she is protecting a sailing ship from the fury of the waves. It is possible to hypothesise that this canvas was commissioned when the church was being built in 1680, over the remains of an older church which stood in the “Portus Veneris” vicinity. As Solferino claims, this picture may be the work of di Antonio Cilea, an artist from Reggio, active between the sixthteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The feast day of Maria Santissima di Porto Salvo, begins on the 25th of March every year, when, by tradition, the image is carried in procession as far as Pentedattilo, where it remains for about a month in the church of SS. Pietro e Paolo [Saints Peter and Paul] to honour an ancient vow made by Marquis Domenico Alberti. The celebration is held on the last Saturday of the month of April, with great devotion and the participation of many, as the vara [float] is carried to the rhythm of traditional dance tunes performed by the local band. On the afternoon of the vigil, Friday, a short procession through the streets of Pentedattilo takes place, while on Saturday the procession sets out in the morning from the little church to arrive usually at about midday, when the Sacred Effigy is handed over to some sailors, who then carry it as far as the Sanctuary on an artistic vara. The image enters the sanctuary usually in the afternoon. The celebration reaches its peak on the following Sunday with a procession through the main streets of Melito di Porto Salvo. The painting leaves the Sanctuary in the afternoon and arrives in the town for the procession, whose key moments are the following: the stop in piazzale del Pronto Soccorso; another one at the Hospital; the transit though the Marina Ward, where the Portatori [lit. “carriers” or “porters”] celebrate the entrance of the Madonna into their quarter by carrying it to the two bridges that flank the shore; then, when the Madonna moves in the direction of the place where a change of Portatori is to take place, the women of the seaside Ward walk in front of the vara slowing down its pace, as if trying to postpone as long as possible the inevitable moment of the handover. Having arrived in front of Palazzo degli Alberti, the Sacred Effigy is handed over to the Terrazzani [lit. “terracers”, meaning inhabitants of the upper part of the town], the Portatori from the upper part of the town. The procession resumes, makes a brief stop at the Archpriest’s Church before continuing along the narrow streets of the Old Town and then, in the late evening, makes its way back to the Sanctuary to the sound of pealing bells.

Description of the work care of Pasquale Faenza.

LocalitaMelito Porto Salvo
Tipo Risorsachiese

how to reach us

Da Reggio Calabria percorrere la SS 106 fino all'uscita Melito Porto Salvo. La chiesa si trova sulla Via Marina del centro abitato di Melito.


Comune di Melito di Porto Salvo -