The original church at the site of Santa Croce was founded in 1080, outside the walls of the village under the patronage of Pope Gregory VII. With the expansion of the town, the church was rebuilt in 1596 using designs of Pellegrino Tibaldi.
One of the holy relics of the church is putatively a foot print of Christ, though made of Carrara marble, and, according to the tradition, dating back to the period of the Crusades. It is located between two of the chapels on a pilaster strip. In the third chapel on the right there is a canvas depicting the Adoration of Magi (1533) by Bernardino Lanino. In the fourth chapel, the altarpiece depicting St Michael defeating Satan by Guglielmo Caccia, also called Il Moncalvo. In the counterfacade there are two tempera canvases (1545) depicting Our Lady of the Annunciation and Archangel Gabriel, attributed to the Vigevanese painter Bernardino Ferrari.
The fourth chapel on the left exhibits a Virgin and Child and Saints by the 16th-century Venetian school and a 15th-century fresco representing St Augustine.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.