Basilica di San Nicola

The Pontifical Basilica di San Nicola (Basilica of Saint Nicholas) is a church in Bari, southern Italy that holds wide religious significance throughout Europe and the Christian world. The basilica is an important pilgrimage destination both for Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe.

Basilica of Saint Nicholas
Basilica di San Nicola
Bari Basilica San Nicola
The Basilica di San Nicola by night.
AffiliationRoman Catholic Church
ProvinceArchdiocese of Bari-Bitonto
Ecclesiastical or organizational statusPontifical minor basilica
Year consecrated1197
LocationBari, Italy
Geographic coordinates41°7′48.94″N 16°52′13.01″E / 41.1302611°N 16.8702806°ECoordinates: 41°7′48.94″N 16°52′13.01″E / 41.1302611°N 16.8702806°E
Architectural typeChurch
Architectural styleRomanesque
Bari BW 2016-10-19 13-38-04 stitch
The interior.


The basilica was built between 1087 and 1197, during the Italo-Norman domination of Apulia, the area previously occupied by the Byzantine Catapan of which Bari was the seat. Its foundation is related to the recovery of some of the relics of Saint Nicholas from the saint’s original shrine in Myra, in what is now Turkey. When Myra passed into the hands of the Saracens, some saw it as an opportunity to move the saint's relics to a safer location. According to the justifying legend, the saint, passing by the city on his way to Rome, had chosen Bari as his burial place. There was great competition for the relics between Venice and Bari. The latter won, the relics were carried off under the noses of the lawful Greek custodians and their Muslim masters, and on May 9, 1087, were safely landed at Bari. A new church was built to shelter Nicholas' remains and Pope Urban II was present at the consecration of the crypt in 1089. The edifice was officially consecrated in 1197, in the presence of the Imperial Vicar, Bishop Conrad of Hildesheim, and of numerous bishops, prelates and noblemen. Elias, abbot of the nearby monastery of Saint Benedict, was named as first archbishop. His cathedra (bishop's throne) still stands in the church to this day.


Cattedra vescovo Elia Bari 2005
The Cathedra of Bishop Elias.

The church has a rather square appearance, seemingly more suited to a castle than to a church. This impression is strengthened by the presence of two low massive towers framing the façade. It was indeed used several times as castle during its history.

The interior has a nave and two aisles, divided by granite columns and pilasters. The presbytery is separated from the rest of the edifice by mean of three arches supported by columns of Byzantine influence. Above the aisles is the matronaeum, a tribune gallery for women, opening into the nave. The basilica was the first church of this design, setting a precedent which was later imitated in numerous other constructions in the region.


Gentile da Fabriano 062
Pilgrims at the tomb of Saint Nicholas in Bari (Gentile da Fabriano, c. 1425, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.).

The Basilica houses one of the most noteworthy Romanesque sculptural works of southern Italy, a cathedra (bishop's throne) finished in the late eleventh century for Elias. There are precious mosaic pavements in the crypt and presbytery. The ciborium, the most ancient in the region, is also decorated with mosaic; it has four columns with foliage, animals and mythological figures. The crypt, with 26 columns sporting capitals in Byzantine and Romanesque style, houses the relics of Saint Nicholas.

The tomb of Saint Nicholas in Bari, as it appears today.

In the church is the Renaissance tomb of Bona Sforza, (sixteenth century), in marble. The museum of the Basilica has precious works of art, including a collection of twelfth-century candlesticks donated by King Charles I of Anjou.

The church was restored in the late thirteenth century, in 1456 and in the seventeenth century. In the twentieth-century restoration, most of the Baroque additions were removed, leaving only the gilded wooden ceiling, enframing canvases by Carlo De Rosa.

Feast days

Russian icon Instaplanet Saint Nicholas
Russian icon of Saint Nicholas.

December 6 is Saint Nicholas Day, the main feast day of Saint Nicholas. On this day, it is traditional for the clergy of the basilica to lower a flask into the subterranean tomb of Saint Nicholas to extract some of the myrrh which is believed to exude from the relics. Containers of this myrrh are sent all over the world, and believers have reported numerous miracles as a result of being anointed with it. For those Orthodox Churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, December 6 falls on December 19 of the Gregorian Calendar, so there will actually be two celebrations of the same holy day: one according to the New Calendar (December 6) and one according to the Old Calendar (December 19). Both are celebrated with great solemnity at Bari.

May 9 (May 22) is celebrated annually in the Russian Orthodox Church as the feast day of the "Translation of the Relics of Saint Nicholas from Myra to Bari".

Pilgrimages to the basilica from Eastern Europe have increased dramatically since the fall of the Iron Curtain, not only for the feast days, but throughout the year.

See also

External links

Assassinio nella cattedrale

Assassinio nella cattedrale (Murder in the Cathedral) is an opera in two acts and an intermezzo by the Italian composer Ildebrando Pizzetti. The libretto is an adaptation by the composer of an Italian translation of T.S. Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral. The opera was first performed at La Scala, Milan on 1 March 1958. The opera was performed for the first time in Canada the following year at the Montreal Festivals.


Bari (Italian pronunciation: [ˈbaːri] (listen); Barese: Bare [ˈbæːrə]; Latin: Barium; Ancient Greek: Βάριον, translit. Bárion) is the capital city of the Metropolitan City of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in southern Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples and Palermo, a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas. The city itself has a population of 326,799, as of 2015, over 116 square kilometres (45 sq mi), while the urban area has 700,000 inhabitants. The metropolitan area has 1.3 million inhabitants.

Bari is made up of four different urban sections. To the north is the closely built old town on the peninsula between two modern harbours, with the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, the Cathedral of San Sabino (1035–1171) and the Hohenstaufen Castle built for Frederick II, which is now also a major nightlife district. To the south is the Murat quarter (erected by Joachim Murat), the modern heart of the city, which is laid out on a rectangular grid-plan with a promenade on the sea and the major shopping district (the via Sparano and via Argiro).

Modern residential zones surrounding the centre of Bari were built during the 1960s and 1970s replacing the old suburbs that had developed along roads splaying outwards from gates in the city walls. In addition, the outer suburbs developed rapidly during the 1990s. The city has a redeveloped airport named after Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyła Airport, with connections to several European cities.

Bari Cathedral

Bari Cathedral (Italian: Duomo di Bari or Cattedrale di San Sabino) is the cathedral of Bari, in Apulia, southern Italy, senior to, though less famous than, the Basilica of St Nicholas (Basilica di San Nicola) in the same city. The cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Bari-Bitonto, as it was previously of the archbishops, earlier bishops, of Bari. It is dedicated to Saint Sabinus, a bishop of Canosa, whose relics were brought here in the 9th century.The present building was constructed between the late 12th and late 13th centuries, mostly in the last thirty years of the 12th century, and was built on the site of the ruins of the Imperial Byzantine cathedral destroyed in 1156 by William I of Sicily known as the Wicked (il Malo); to the right of the transept it is still possible to observe traces of the original pavement which extends under the nave.

Basilica di San Nicola a Tolentino

The Basilica of Saint Nicolas of Tolentino (Italian: Basilica di San Nicola a Tolentino) is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica that is part of the Augustinian monastery in the hill-town of Tolentino, province of Macerata, Marche, central Italy. The church is a former cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tolentino, suppressed in 1586.It contains architecture and art from the 14th through the 17th century. The imposing marble facade of the church was constructed over the centuries, and was completed in the 17th century.

Bona Sforza

Bona Sforza (2 February 1494 – 19 November 1557) was Queen consort of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania. A member of the powerful House of Sforza, which ruled the Duchy of Milan since 1447, she became the second wife of Sigismund I the Old, the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1518. Their marriage lasted 30 years until Sigismund's death in 1548. Ambitious and energetic, Bona became heavily involved in the political life of Poland–Lithuania. To increase state revenue, she implemented various economic and agricultural reforms, including the far-reaching Wallach Reform in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Her reforms made her the richest landowner in the Grand Duchy. In foreign policy, she opposed the Habsburgs and sought to secure her eldest daughter Isabella Jagiellon in the Kingdom of Hungary.

Ciborium (architecture)

In ecclesiastical architecture, a ciborium ("ciborion": κιβώριον in Greek) is a canopy or covering supported by columns, freestanding in the sanctuary, that stands over and covers the altar in a basilica or other church. It may also be known by the more general term of baldachin, though ciborium is often considered more correct for examples in churches. Early ciboria had curtains hanging from rods between the columns, so that the altar could be concealed from the congregation at points in the liturgy. Smaller examples may cover other objects in a church. In a very large church, a ciborium is an effective way of visually highlighting the altar, and emphasizing its importance. The altar and ciborium are often set upon a dais to raise it above the floor of the sanctuary.

A ciborium is also a covered, chalice-shaped container for Eucharistic hosts. In Italian the word is often used for the tabernacle on the altar, which is incorrect in English.

Emidio Pallotta

Emidio Pallotta (1803-1868) was an Italian painter and architect, active mainly in his native Tolentino in the region of Marche.

Luigi Fontana

Luigi Fontana (9 February 1827 – 27 December 1908) was an Italian sculptor, painter and architect.

Mario Nuzzolese

Mario Nuzzolese (10 December 1915 – 21 October 2008), more commonly known as "Professore" for his richness of culture, technical knowledge and enthusiasm in teaching. He was an Italian Lieutenant Colonel, teacher, journalist and film critic. He led the Italian cinema and entertainment culture, contributing to the management and development of the National AGIS Association and heading for more than 40 years as co-founder the Regional Delegation.

Nicholas of Tolentino (disambiguation)

Nicholas of Tolentino, San Nicolas de Tolentino or San Nicolás de Tolentino may refer to:

Nicholas of Tolentino, a Christian saint from Italy

Not to be confused with Niccolò da Tolentino, an Italian condottiero, or Saint Nicholas of Myra, venerated in Bari, Italy in the Basilica di San Nicola

Nicola Gliri

Nicola Gliri (1630 -1687) (pronounced "Leary"), called in Latin Nicolaus Glirus, was an Italian Baroque painter active in the region of Apulia.

He was born in Bitonto, but his best known works were completed alongside Carlo Rosa for the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari. Both are said to have been pupils of Paolo Finoglio. The work was commissioned by the prior Giovanni Montero (1655-1674) and consisted of six lunettes in the crypt, with one signed 1660.Gliri also painted a Madonna delle Sette Dolori with Saints Francis of Assisi and Francis Xavier (1684-1686) for the Cathedral of Ruvo.Among his pupils was Vitantonio De Filippis.

Pietro da Rimini

Pietro da Rimini (active 1315-1335) was an early 14th-century Italian painter.

Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas of Myra (traditionally 15 March 270 – 6 December 342), also known as Nicholas of Bari, was an early Christian bishop of the ancient Greek city of Myra in Asia Minor (modern-day Demre, Turkey) during the time of the Roman Empire. He is revered by many Christians as a saint. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints, and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus ("Saint Nick") through Sinterklaas.

Very little is known about the historical Saint Nicholas. The earliest accounts of his life were written centuries after his death and contain many legendary elaborations. He is said to have been born in Patara, Lycia in Asia Minor to wealthy Christian parents. In one of the earliest attested and most famous incidents from his life, he is said to have rescued three girls from being forced into prostitution by dropping a sack of gold coins through the window of their house each night for three nights so their father could pay a dowry for each of them. Other early stories tell of him calming a storm at sea, saving three innocent soldiers from wrongful execution, and chopping down a tree possessed by a demon. In his youth, he is said to have made a pilgrimage to Egypt and the Palestine area. Shortly after his return, he became Bishop of Myra. He was later cast into prison during the persecution of Diocletian, but was released after the accession of Constantine. An early list makes him an attendee at the First Council of Nicaea in 325, but he is never mentioned in any writings by people who were actually at the council. Late, unsubstantiated legends claim that he was temporarily defrocked and imprisoned during the Council for slapping the heretic Arius. Another famous late legend tells how he resurrected three children, who had been murdered and pickled in brine by a butcher planning to sell them as pork during a famine.

Fewer than 200 years after Nicholas's death, the St. Nicholas Church was built in Myra under the orders of Theodosius II over the site of the church, where he had served as bishop and Nicholas's remains were moved to a sarcophagus in that church. In 1087, after the Byzantine Empire temporarily lost control of the region to the Seljuk Turks, a group of merchants from the Italian city of Bari removed the major bones of Nicholas's skeleton from his sarcophagus without authorization and brought them to their hometown, where they are now enshrined in the Basilica di San Nicola. The remaining bone fragments from the sarcophagus were later removed by Venetian sailors and taken to Venice during the First Crusade. His relics in Bari are said to exude a miraculous watery substance known as "manna" or "myrrh", which some members of the faithful regard as possessing supernatural powers.

San Nicola da Tolentino agli Orti Sallustiani

Not be confused with the church of San Nicolò da Tolentino in Venice, the Basilica di San Nicola in the town of Tolentino in the province of Macerata, or the Oratorio di San Nicola da Tolentino in Vicenza.

San Nicola da Tolentino agli Orti Sallustiani (Italian: Saint Nicholas of Tolentino in the Gardens of Sallust) is a church in Rome. It is one of the two national churches of Armenia. The church was built for the Discalced Augustinians in 1599, and originally dedicated to the 13th century Augustinian monk, St. Nicholas of Tolentino (also called San Niccolò or Nicolò da Tolentino).

San Nicola di Bari

San Nicola di Bari can refer to :

Saint Nicholas, whose bones were moved to Bari from Myra in modern-day Turkey, in 1087

Basilica di San Nicola, the church in Bari built to house the saint's relics

San Nicola in Carcere

San Nicola in Carcere (Italian, "St Nicholas in prison") is a titular church in Rome near the Forum Boarium in rione Sant'Angelo. It is one of the traditional stational churches of Lent.

Timeline of Bari

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Bari in the Apulia region of Italy.

Virgilio Monti

Virgilio Monti (1852–1942) was an Italian painter, active mainly in Rome, painting sacred subjects.

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