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Saint Mary Magdalene Church in La Maddalena

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The Parish church is dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene. The Holy Mass in honour of the patron saint of the town is celebrated on 22nd July. The church was designed by a Piedmontese military engineer Giacinto Marciot and built by the islanders and soldiers between 1814 and 1819 in exactly the same spot where a simple small church had previously stood. The roof of the original church was hit during Napoleon’s attack, but without inflicting any serious damage. The construction of the church was financed by the Sardinian Royal Navy and the local population.

The style of the Church

The Baroque Piedmontese facade had originally a sundial and four niches each with a statue of an evangelist. The church has one nave and several lateral chapels. The objects exhibited in the lateral chapels were donated by the local families. One of the most generous was Baron Des Geneys. In the first half of the 19th century the Baron donated to church the first flooring, laid by prisoners sentenced to hard labour, then the inlaid marble pulpit, the elaborate decoration inside the Saint George chapel (the first on the right) and the main altar built in 1931. In the chancel niche there is a late Baroque wooden polychrome statue of Saint Mary Magdalene from Liguria, dated to the later part of the 18th century. Finally in 1841 the clock that we can see on the facade and large bell, cast in Genoa were added.

A sort of return to the origins.

In 1952 an 8 metre archway was added to the church and the original facade was demolished. However, during the last renovation in 1993 it was rebuilt, the roof was repaired and the inside of the church was painted. The original statues of four evangelists have been recently placed back in the niches. So today we can admire the original facade, exactly as it was in 1814.

The Diocesan Museum

Right next to the church there is a small Diocesan Museum. We can reach it from Via Barone Manno street on the left of the church. The museum houses the Treasure of Saint Mary Magdalene that consists of a valuable collection of jewels given by the local population as votive donations over about two and a half centuries, wooden polychrome statues from the end of the 17th century, sacred objects and original documents proving provenance of the donations to the church. The most precious part of this treasure, however, are two neoclassical silver candlesticks and a silver crucifix donated by Admiral Horatio Nelson in 1804 before leaving the archipelago in pursuit the French fleet. The Admiral’s gift was accompanied by a letter expressing his thanks and signed personally by Nelson. Don Anonio Biancareddu replied to the Admiral in a letter that is exhibited in London at the British Museum. The collections of the Diocesan museum are a precious source of local history and proof of a continuous meeting and blending of differing populations.

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