top of page
  • adunsy

Sicily Break - On the trail of Newman

Friday morning after we cleared out of our accommodation we had a couple of hours to visit a few church's in Palermo before we left for Catania. On the way to Catania Tom was keen to visit a town called Enna, this is where St Cardinal Henry Newman stayed in before he became a Catholic.


A ceiling painting from the Gesu, a Jesuit church in Palermo.


Christ ascending into heaven with the angels having defeated the evil one and his companions with the Word of God and the cross, with St Michael the archangel just making sure on the edge of the bible.


The first two churches we visited were the Martorana (left) and the San Cataldo ( right).



The Martorana is a stunning little church that has over the years being added to over the centuries and has taken the best of all the cultures that have been present in Palermo over the centuries.


First built in 1143, by on of the Norman king Roger II's high ranking officials it was originally just a square shaped church with the central dome and altar. decorated in the Byzantine style mosaics with the gold background tiles it is just stunning.



The altar takes on a baroque style to it with the marble and white stone carvings that adorn the walls and a fresco on the celling.



The central dome of the church.



The second dome back is decorated with a fresco of the presentation of the Lord is the temple, this section was added a few hundred years later.



San Cataldo, in stark contrast was built ten years after the Martorana in 1154, for the Grand Admiral to the King this time King William I. it has its own unique charm in its simplicity.



The three domes from the inside as you could see on the outside picture were red.



Just up the road was the Gesu, as you could guess it was built by the Jesuits in 1636 after 46 years of construction.



The nave of the church and ceiling as you saw on the cover photo this was the picture of Christ ascending into heaven.



Behind the main altar one of the stone carvings depicting Abraham with Melchizedek giving offering of bread and wine



Just time for one more church before we hit the road. St Catherine's named after St Catherins of Alexandria, was set up as the convent church for a female order of Dominicans. completed in 1596 it encapsulates the baroque style to the max.



And a picture of the whole church.



And the ceiling, St Catherine and a few other saints including St Dominic ascending into heaven.



A bit later than we had planned but we were on the way to Enna. This is the town where St Henry Newman stayed when he got sick and was brought here from Palermo to get some fresh mountain air and rest. From the highway it can be seen on the top of the mountain.



The view from the Enna, looking at the neighboring town.



Enna Cathedral dates back to 1446 after the original cathedral burnt down.



The interior, the central nave.



The blessed sacrament nave with an interesting ceiling design that looks like see shells and octopus legs wrapping around the arch columns.



The right nave is dedicated to Our Lady of the Visitation.



After a bit of google maps searching and walking around town we finally we found the plaque on the building that says St Cardinal Henry Newman stayed here, from the 6th to the 25th of May 1833. It was not long after Newman recovered in Enna and travelled back to mainland Italy that he composed the hymn Lead kindly Light, as used in the daily office night prayers. It would be another 13 years before Newman became a Catholic.




Having achieved our mission in Enna, we set then off to Catania anther 100km down the road, where would met up for dinner with a lecturer from the Beda college and some of her friends and discussed our Sicilian expeditions.

23 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page