The Church of Santa Maria del Suffragio, also known as the Church of Anime Sante (holy souls), is the symbol of the Abruzzo earthquake which struck L’Aquila in 2009. It became famous when footage of its dome collapsing was broadcast live around the world. In a strange twist of fate, this church was originally erected in 1713, in memory of the victims of another devastating earthquake which struck this city in Abruzzo in 1703. The seismic event brought the city to its knees in the 18th century but failed to defeat its inhabitants’ will to live. The population transformed tragedy into opportunity, embracing the city’s profound architectonic renewal. And so L’Aquila became a bustling city of art, a magnet for artists, architects and workers from all over Italy. The Church of Santa Maria del Suffragio, designed by Carlo Buratti, from Rome, and built by Milanese workers, was the first baroque ecclesiastical building to be erected in the Abruzzo region.
Just like before, everything started from the Church of Anime Sante. Thanks to joint funding from the French and Italian governments, the church has undergone a full architectural renovation, its interiors have been fully restored and its stuccoes and gold leaf, dating back to the Baroque period, have been fully recreated. Giusto Manetti Battiloro has contributed towards the rebirth of this symbol of Abruzzo with its very own gold leaf. The reopening event was attended by the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella and the French Minister of European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau. A thousand children released black and green balloons into the sky, symbolic colours of the city. The air in L’Aquila is laden with freedom. The scars of damage inflicted by the earthquake have not disappeared, but the citizens’ and above all children’s desire for life have certainly made them less visible.
Just like the Church of Anime Sante, many of the city’s masterpieces have been restored to their former glory, thanks to restoration works. This is certainly the case for the Fountain of 99 spouts from which water first flowed in 1272. It has been fully renovated thanks to funds allocated by FAI- the Italian National Trust. If you are interested in contributing towards reconstructing this city and region, why not plan you next holiday here? Stroll down streets in the centre, savour local specialities, admire the Spanish Fort, the National Museum of Abruzzo, the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio, the Roman amphitheatres of Amiternum, the Castle of Ocre and many other sites of beauty, to contribute towards the rebirth of this splendid gem set in the heart of Italy. The Church of Santa Maria del Suffragio is more beautiful than ever before, the same will happen for the entire city of L’Aquila.