Built on the ruins of ancient temple of Cybele, the religious building is considered among the most ancient ones in the Sorrento Coast. Probably commissioned by the last Sir of Sorrento, in 1133, it has gone through various events.
The church consecrated to Our Lady of the Annunciation is surely one of the most ancient ones in Sorrento and the whole Sorrento Coast.
The religious building, in fact, was built on the ruins of a temple consecrated to the pagan goddess Cybele of which – among the archaeological finds kept in the Correale Museum – the marble altar (of Greek manufacture) is kept.
This one is characterized by the presence, on one side, of the goddess herself crowned with towers and sitting on a cart drawn by two lions with various other symbols and, on the other, by people with lighted torches in their hands and while running.
The date of its building is not sure, but according to the most reliable historians, it was erected in 1133, by Sergio, the last of the Sirs of Sorrento (from whom, then, the families of the local nobles of Sersale and Mastrogiudice would descend).
Though at the centre of the attentions of the most important patrician families, the Church of Annunziata has had, in the course of centuries, alternate events.
Towards the first half of the 14th century, for example, it was renewed by family Capece, because, up to few years before, it had been considered a ruined temple.
Come to be part of an Augustinian monastery, later suppressed in 1809 (during the Napoleonic domination), the Church of Annunziata had to face, anyway, other difficult moments.
Such as the one that brought – on January 12th 1358 – the Chapter of the Congregation to authorize the prior to sell personal properties or real estate of lower importance to contrast an indebtedness towards a Pietro Vulcano.
After almost one and a half century, the same monastery the Church was part of was at the centre of a very delicate dispute between the friars of the convent and Sorrento Parliament. This one, in fact, in 1496, had decided – for causes which were not better specified – to “chase” the religious men away both from the monastery and from the church, if it had been necessary, “even armed and with soldiers for a just cause”. The misunderstanding, nevertheless, was clarified in a short time and, in 1499, the Sorrento Parliament stated to lavish a hundred ducats to the same monastery to allow the mends necessary “to the dilapidated refectory and to the new dormitory.”
The damages caused by the Saracen incursion of 1558 (on the occasion of which several Sorrento buildings were sacked and almost destroyed) and by the earthquakes of 1695 and 1798 let the religious building become object of numerous interventions which let it almost completely lose its original aspect.
Recent renovation works, in fact, have allowed the recovery of a lancet arch and of the trussed roof which testify the use of a declaredly Gothic style.
This is a particular which strengthens, in a convincing way, the hypotheses concerning the period of its former construction.
At the centre of an intense renovation activity which continued throughout 1700, the Church of Annunziata enjoyed the attentions given by the Archbishop, Monsignor Filippo Anastasio, by his successor, Monsignor Silvestro Pepe and, to an even larger extent, by Cardinal Antonio Sersale.
From time immemorial at the centre of the attentions of the Christians of the Sorrento Coast, the same church is seat of the Archconfraternity of Santa Monica that, every year, organizes – in the night between Holy Thursday and Friday – one of the most suggestive processions which characterize the mystical atmosphere breathed in the Sorrento Coast during the Easter week.
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