The history of the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption is closely linked to the Benedictine monastery of St. Mary, which, according to oral tradition, was built when a Byzantine icon of the Virgin was brought to Positano and venerated in our church thereafter.
The abbey allegedly dates back to the second half of the 10h century. It was mentioned for the first time in a manuscript of the late 11th century.
The years of commendatory abbots was mostly negative for our church. Its architectural traces were almost totally lost, while the church started to fall into decay, in spite of continuous reproaches by Amalfi archbishops and a thorough rebuilding at the beginning of the 17th century. The last commendatory abbot, Liborio Manna from Naples, was deprived of his power by the local clergy, which, in 1777, started restoring the church. The works lasted about five years.
The interior has a nave and two aisles, with five arches, corresponding, along the aisles, to five chapels on each side. When approaching the high altar from the entry, we may admire the chapels of St. Blaise, of the Immaculate Conception, of St. Anthony and St. Anne on the right. The altar of the Circumcision is on the right end, with a valuable painting by Fabrizio Santafede (1599). The chapel of St. Steven, on the right of the high altar, houses the wooden statue of Our Lady with Infant Christ. Above the high altar a small temple opens up with a recently restored Byzantine icon. On the apse sides, the walnut chorus features two niches, lodging Our Lady of Sorrows on the right and a valuable Christ at the column by Michele Trilocco (1798) on the left.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.