priory and church of
Saint Dominic

A brief description.



In earlier time groups of  monks belonging to the order of Saint Basil
founded the village of Soriano as a safe refuge from the persecutions of
the Muslims. On the rocky ridge, where today Sorianello rises up, the
village didn't have any possibility of developing. The inhabitants chose
a wide plain south of the village, at the confluence of the Cornaccia river
with the Caridi, along the road towards Monteleone.

After the Normal rule the feud of Soriano was in 1501 raised to countship
by Ferdinand II of Aragon, who appointed the noble Carofas from Nocera to rule it until 1600.


The Dominicans in Soriano.


Because the citizens of Soriano, Sicily, had a strong religious feeling towards St. Dominic, a big sanctuary and a priory were built in his honour in 1510 . The sanctuary was built along the left embankment of the Cornacchia stream, not very far from the suburb Nigliari on a plain which extended as far as the hill Collina degli Angeli.

On 15 September 1530 the holy Virgin with Catharine of Alexandria and Mary Magdalen appears to the Dominican lay-brother verger in this church. The Virgin presents him a picture on canvas of Saint Dominic. The prior hung this  miraculous image of Saint Dominic above the main-altar of the church.

Popes and kings were particularly generous giving it a lot of material and spiritual rewards. However its full splendour was onely reached between the second half of the 16th century and the first half of the 17th century.

At that time a lot of churches and chapels in honour of Saint Dominic of Soriano were rising up in many cities and in many other villages in Italy and in Europe (Guima, Tenerife) and even in America (Uruguay, Panamá, Argentina ((Mendoza)), and Asia (Manila), which contributed to make Soriano very famous.

The Dominican pope Benedict XIII (02.02.1649 – Pope 29.05.1723 – 21.02.1730) instituted a church solemnity to remember this fact.


To support the cultural vitality the priory in Soriano had a very well stocked library and even a typography, where several and important works were printed: the Holy Scripture, theological, philosophical and preaching books and the chronicle of the priory written by Father Antonino Lembo, O.P. Its fame increased thanks to many works written about it, and it reached the top when in 1652, after Francesco Maria Domenico Carafa’s death, the last count without any heir, the Dominicans of the priory decided to buy the countship of Soriano from Philip IV, king of Spain, for 84,000 ducats. The prior of the priory became Lord of Soriano by right and he had the title of count with all advantages deriving from it. He could even administrate the justice.


The earthquakes of 5 November 1659.


At the top of its brightness, the sanctuary of Soriano was supposed to remain a majestic monument of faith and art for ever, but only some years later, on 5th November, 1659 one of the several earthquakes, which during the centuries damaged Calabria, completely destroyed the sanctuary and the ancient priory.

Many cities, lands and four suburbs in the region were destroyed. 2,035 People died all over the region.

Shortly after that terrible event King Philip IV of Spain himself wanted another monastic complex, which was built up on the ruins of the old sanctuary.

Architect Bonaventura Presti planned it imitating the Escorial of Madrid.  A majestic priory was built in 1562according to Philip II’s express wish in memory of the victory of St. Quintino.


Sources: Internet.
The pantheon of San Domenico, Angela Fatiga.

A short guide edited by Maurizio Randazzo, and translated by Renata Farrara.


The priory and church of Saint Dominic after 1659.


The present church of Saint Dominic was built in 1659 and planned by the Dominican architect Andrea Cirrincione. The façade was constructed later in 1726, it is Baroque in style and framed by two bell towers which soar its figure; it is also adorned by some stucco statues of Dominicans saints and popes who, together with the decoration, were realized by Giovanni Maria Serpotta, nephew of the most famous Giacomo.

The interior, although made in the second half of the ’600, as well as the façade itself, is characterized by a moderate and severe Baroque style following the typical sobriety of the Dominican Order way of life.


Since 1853, thanks to the literate man Agostino Gallo, the church of Saint Dominic became 'the Pantheon' for the renowned Sicilians. For its whole dimensions, 88,92x 34,68 meters, it is the biggest religious building in Sicily.


Starting the visit from the right aisle, in the first chapel there is a wooden sculpture of the Madonna with Jesus and Saint Dominic receiving the Rosary; it is a work of the first years of the XIX century by Girolamo Bagnasco, the most famous of a carving family, died in 1832; the tradition has that the pictured part is by Giuseppe Velasco, famous painter of the age. A Maronna i San Numinicu, as called in the local dialect, is object of a great devotion in Palermo and it is exposed in May and October to the cult of the many faithful.


There are many chapels, dedicated Dominican Saints: Thomas Aquinas, with a wooden board by Gian Paolo Fundullo from Cremona, 1573;  Vincent Ferrer with a painting by Giuseppe Velasquez (1787); S aintDominic with a valuable canvas of Gaspare Bazzano of Vazzano (1603.


On the main altar the urn with the relics of the blessed Pietro Geremia, O.P. (1400-1452).On the front of the Hyacinth of Poland altar a image of the saint, painted by Gaspare Bazzano (ca 1598).


In the chapel of the SS.Rosary is a wooden panel realized in 1540 by Vincenzo of the Azzani named da Pavia; it depicts The Virgin Mary giving the Rosary to Saint Dominic who leans forward her in rapture, near St. Christine, St. Vincent Ferrer and Ninfa. Kneeling at their feet, there are the La Plaia, husband and wife, who had commissioned the work.

The excellent walnut pulpit(1732) with the Dominicans John Liccio, Vincent Ferrer, Thomas Aquinas, Anthoninus Pierozzi and James Salomoni.


On 15 September 1870 during a modest solemnity of Saint Dominic, the people in the church saw the statue of Saint Dominic, placed on the main-altar, moved into four directions with perspiration on his face.

This fact is affirmed by the Bishop of Milete and the Master-General of the Order, Vincent Jandel, announced it to all the members of the Order.


Source: bibliography: Repertorio bibliografico degli edifici religiosi di Palermo di Riosario La Duca. Palermo Edi Oftes 1991,pp 87-89.

- dominicani-palermo and Others.




Priory and church of Saint Dominic in Soriano Calabro.


Italy 2003. Postmark Soriano Calabro










Spanish Dominicans settled a priory in Uruguay and named their chapel 'Santo Domingo Soriano', also the name of the villa. In 1751 they built the church  'Santo Domingo de Soriano'. 



On the stamp a Dominican with three Indians.
In the background the church.
On the FDC the trellis-work and the church.
On the postmark the trellis-work and the church.

 Uruguay 1973, Mi 1285, Sc 860, FDC
with postmark 25.07.1973.



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