The Sanctuary of Saint Francis of Paola in Milazzo
Saint Francis of Paola reached Milazzo in 1465 invited by the authorities of the town. They offered him the Saint Blaise hill, in order to build a church and a convent.
The Saint himself took part into the construction, which was finished in less than three years.
The construction of the church of Saint Francis of Paola
During the building of the convent and the church, masons had some difficulties, but Saint Francis was always ready to solve them. Three miracles are particularly remembered:
- Workers needed water, but it was very far away, Saint Francis indicated a specific point, where to dig, in fact they found out the water. It was salty water, Saint Francis blessed it and it became fresh water. He told them, that it would have became again salty, when the friars had built a cistern to catch the rain water;
- While the workers were digging, they found two very big stones and it was impossible to move them. Francis made them less heavy with the sign of the cross, so the stones could be moved. He decided that these stones would have been the foundations of the church and convent;
- The wooden beams came from San Pier Niceto, a little village 2o kilometres far from Milazzo, in fact it took many days for their arrival. One of these beams was too short, but Saint Francis lengthened simply blessing it. Still today we can see, in the ceiling of the church, the miraculous beam illuminated by a lamp.
In the 17th century the Sanctuary was restored for the first time. In the 18th century the building underwent a total modification, even its orientation was changed.
Works of art in the church of Saint Francis of Paola
The Sanctuary has only one nave and there are some paintings, that describe the life of Saint Francis. Other paintings and frescoes were made by the brothers Severino.
A noteworthy altar is that one dedicated to Jesus and Mary: it is made of carved gilded wood and mirrors. It keeps an alabaster statue of the Virgin Mary and the Child, by the artist Domenico Gagini.
On the main altar there is a wooden statue of Saint Francis of Paola, dating back to the 17th century and recently restored.
Saint Francis of Paola is not the only saint who chose this town as a temporary home. Till today, in Capo Milazzo, it is possible to visit the Sanctuary of Saint Anthony of Padova , where Saint Anthony spent some days in 1221.