Lipari Cathedral has been since 1986 a co-cathedral in the Archdiocese of Messina-Lipari-Santa Lucia del Mela. From its foundation, the cathedral had served as the sole parish church for the entire archipelago.
The first cathedral was built in the heart of the acropolis, where a Greek temple had probably existed in the classical period, but it was destroyed by the Arabs in 838.
Reconstruction came only under Roger I of Sicily. In 1083, Count Roger I invited the Benedictine monks who were well-fitted for the serenity and security of the place, and built a monastery near the castle for them. The Abbot Ambrogio and his Benedictines built the church and its neighbouring monastery in Lipari. In 1131, Ugone, Archbishop of Messina, promoted the two monasteries of Patti and Lipari to a bishopric, in accordance with a papal bull.
Next to the single naved church, the monastery developed around the cloisters, the first Latin-Norman style cloisters in Sicily. Three of the four original ambulatories were recently brought to light, the fourth has been incorporated into the cathedral and is now its right nave.
The building was expanded between 1450 and 1515 with an artistic trussed wooden ceiling, but was burnt in July 1544 after an attack by the Ottoman corsair Hayreddin Barbarossa. In 1516 Charles V inherited an array of Spanish titles including naples, Sardinia and Sicily and led a campaign against Barbarossa, who retreated to Africa in 1535. After that, reconstruction work began in Lipari: fortifications of the citadel were improved, the cathedral was rebuilt with barrel vaults as a living symbol of the Islanders' Christian faith.
In the course of the eighteenth century frescos with biblical scenes were painted on the vaults. In 1728, the silver statue of the patron Bartholomew was created, as well as the wooden altar to the left of the apse. Between 1755 and the end of the century, work was begun on the campanile. In 1772 the cathedral was expanded with two side naves. The right side nave incorporated the north ambulatory of the cloisters. Work also began on the facade of pale Vesuvian stone in 1772, intended to give a delicate contrast and sense of dynamic harmony with the interior of the duomo. In the last decades of the eighteenth century, marble altars decorated with paintings by Antonio Mercurio were added. In 1859 the cathedral was struck by lightning, destroying the gable of the facade and the causing some vaults to collapse. Repair work began immediately and was completed in 1861. The lost ceiling paintings have never been restored.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).