The Sanctuary of Saint Rocco

The Church of San Rocco, Ceglie Messapica

Impressive and festive in its neo-baroque forms, stands the nineteenth century Church of San Rocco in the city of Ceglie Messapica. It was built on the highest point of a hill where there was a chapel built around the sixteenth century dedicated to St. Rocco, when the population, afflicted by pestilence, began to pray to the patron saint of plague victims. The current Sanctuary was built in 1885 according the plan of Master Cavallo.  Antonio Guariglia of Lecce began the project on February 20, 1881. In its implementation however it varied considerable from the original plan. It was built tetra style with a Tuscan portico and dome. In place of the original elegant design you see a simple construction and instead of the elegant dome in the original project we see a simple design. The church was built with the active collaboration of the entire population of ceglie, mainly the inhabitants of the district "mammacara" this building was carried on without interruption and tirelessly, using all means at their disposal (with generous donations in money, performance of work and supply of construction materials). The work went on for 12 years and ended in 1896. On April 26, 1898 it was consecrated to the cult of St Rocco. The apse was oriented to the west instead of east, to enhance the theatrical aspect that stemmed from the front of the church above the town. Within the sanctuary, besides the wooden statue of the saint, (dated from the eighteenth century and restored to its former beauty thanks to a group of citizens), has also been retained the stone, dated from the sixteenth century by Stefano da Putignano, recently restored at the  initiative of Rotary Ceglie. In the left aisle, are placed: the statue of St. Thomas Aquinas, votive altars with images of St. Paschal Baylon, the Immaculate Conception, S. Frances of Paola, the Madonna of Pompeii, the statue of Christ in the tomb, and a painting of S. Rocco. In the right aisle, in addition to the stone statue of St. Rocco, are placed: votive altars of S. Joseph, Our Lady of Mount Caramel, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the statue of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Peter as well as a painting of the Sacred Heart. The four tower arches, with as many bells of various sizes and sounds (recently electrified), are located right on the perpendicular of the original sacristy (vestry). Under the floor, in the construction, was converted into a cistern that collected rainwater necessary to satisfy the needs of the parish community.

© don Giorgio Miles 2018