Sant’Elia – Mary of Sorrows

The first chapel, of which we have documented information, dates back to 1365. It was a small church that was rebuilt several times, giving its name to the small village and the relative tonnara.
The first popular religious initiatives took place at the end of the seventeenth century, due to constant complaints about the lack of religious assistance due to the distance from the church of St. Anna. The inhabitants of S. Elia, worried to die without sacraments, built the new sacramental church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Carmel, in the lower part of the village.

Facciata Chiesa di Maria SS Addolorata - Archivio Diocesi Maria SS Addolorata

Façade Church of Our Lady of Sorrows – Archives of the Diocese of Our Lady of Sorrows

The choice of the place fell near the sea at the confluence of via Bellante and via Torre, with a primary front in the camparie, now the seat of the oratory. Today’s prospect, with the sacramental door facing south, dates back to the end of the 18th century. Popular sources tell that a certain Gaetano Balistreri, having guaranteed to Ferdinando di Borbone the guard, with armed boat, of the waters of the coastal strip from Solanto to Capo Zafferano, for gratitude has granted him an area in the ridge above the little church of the tonnara near the torrazza, in order to expand it and embellish it. In December 1763 the congregation of the Madonna delle Grazie was founded, attached to the order of the Servites of Maria S.S. Sorrowful, whose purpose was to represent to the Prince the socio-economic interests of the community, solidarity towards the most needy, independence and religious and social self-management.

Interno Chiesa di Maria SS Addolorata - Archivio Diocesi Maria SS Addolorata

Interior Church of Our Lady of Sorrows – Archdiocese of Our Lady of Sorrows

On November 1, 1772, following a written request to obtain that the church of S. Elia, recently consecrated to Our Lady of Sorrows, became a sacramental church taken care of, it reached an agreement among the inhabitants, the Prince R.C. Filangeri and the parish priest of the Nicolà Randazzo basilica, with whom the family heads of S.Elia; Billanti, Dentici, Tarantino, Busalacchi, Balistreri, Scardina, Corona, Alioto, Principato, Camarda, Machì and Mercury were committed to contribute to the expenses of maintaining a chaplain with the proceeds of the catch. They also forced themselves to participate every year with their torch and with the insignia of the congregation at the procession of S. Anna. Under these conditions the prince accepted that a well-mannered chaplain lived in S. Elia, subordinated to the parish priest of the parish of St. Anne. In 1773 the construction of the church was completed, and is said to have been called, the church of Tano Balistreri.