San Giuseppe church was erected in 1756-1796 under the patronage of the Benedictine order. The church and an adjacent convent of nuns occupied a site where prior to the 1693 earthquake had been located the church of San Tommaso. The architect is unknown, but in the circle of Rosario Gagliardi. Like many local churches, the façade has three highly sculpted order, decorated with statues of Saints of the Benedictine orders, including Saints Benedict and Mauro above and St Gertrude and Scolastica below. Near the entrance are statues of St Gregory the Great and St Augustine by Giambattista Muccio in 1775. The entrance portals have iron grillwork screens (1774) by Filippo Scattarelli.
The interior has an oval layout, but kept a large choir and coretti situated over the entrance and flanking the nave, where the nuns could hear the mass while remaining cloistered. Over the vault is a fresco depicting the Glory of St Benedict with St Joseph (1793) by Sebastiano Monaco. The walls are elaborately stuccoed (1793) by Agrippino Maggiore and the Cultrera di Licodia Eubea. The altars (19th century) have elaborate scagliola, and have altarpieces by Tommaso Pollace and Giuseppe Crestadoro, depicting the Trinity, St Mauro, St Benedict, and Ste Gertrude. The pavement has white stone and maiolica tiles. The Vestibule has statues depicting St Benedict (17th century) and a silver-coated St Joseph (1785).References:
The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Most of the population moved to a new settlement in the former district of Patro, calling this new municipality 'Ragusa Superiore' (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city 'Ragusa Inferiore' (Lower Ragusa). The two cities remained separated until 1926, when they were fused together to become a provincial capital in 1927.