The beautiful church known as “La Badiazza” in Messina was part of the 2017 edition of Sicily’s Le vie dei tesori, an event that has taken place in Palermo since 2006. Twenty-eight enchanting places were open to visitors in order to tell their own stories.
But there are places that are not just about dates or legends, but they also give you a sense of peace, serenity, a special atmosphere that vibrates and that excites, like the’ Badiazza’, the church of Santa Maria della Valle.
The Story of La Badiazza
The building was named after Santa Maria della Scala during the Middle Ages because it is linked to a legend that has as its protagonist a sacred image, stolen in the east, portraying the Virgin Mary with a staircase next to it.
The Marian icon traveled on board a ship from Syria and when the boat stopped in the port of Messina, it was impossible for sailors to leave the ship on the shore and they were forced to leave this icon on land, thus revealing the theft. Once brought to the ground, realizing that behind the event there was a divine will, the sacred icon was placed on a cart pulled by a pair of heifers, who without a guide, walked up to the church of Santa Maria della Valle, which changed its name from that moment.
Badiazza is located at the foot of the San Rizzo hills, at the highest part of the Badiazza district, along Via Palermo. The sides and facade of the church are surrounded by woods that help us imagine how the life of the Benedictine nuns living in these places must have been like.
The foundation date is not certain, but it probably dates back to the beginning of the 13th century, along with the construction of an adjoining monastery, of which there is no trace today. It was inhabited until 1347 when the plague forced the nuns to leave the building, and later it was used as a holiday resort until the total abandonment in the 16th century.
Over the course of its history, the church has undergone many changes, but they haven’t made it less monumental. The battlements above the presbytery make it look more like a fort or a castle and its architecture makes it unique.
Inside you can appreciate unique architectural elements that recall other sites and other names. The large octagonal columns, for example, surmounted by decorated capitals, are reminiscent of the Ionian coast of Sicily– from the Ursino Castle to Catania, to Maniace Castle in Syracuse.
Art has always traveled and has always brought new worlds to mix with others, creating unique wonders that we have the privilege of admiring and the duty to preserve and pass on.
Finally, Badiazza allows nature lovers, especially those who love trekking and horseback riding, to plan a trip on the Peloritani mountains independently or with the help of guides.
Copyright photos: Fabiana La Rosa
Article written by: V. Miroddi