The Chapel of the Holy Crucifix is a small Baroque treasure chest inside the wonderful Cathedral of Santa Maria Nuova in Monreale, Sicily.
It opens off of the smaller nave on the left of the church, as if not to disturb the imposing magnificence of the Byzantine mosaics that have made the building famous around the world.
The chapel was built by order of Giovanni Roano, the Spanish archbishop who led the dioceses of Monreale from 1673 to 1703. Roano wanted to create a remarkable space for the 15th-century wooden crucifix that was a gift, according to tradition, of king William II of Sicily (who had the church built in the 12th century).
Roano entrusted Giovanni di Monreale with designing the Chapel, which features decorations meant to resemble a symbolic symphony dedicated to the sacrifice of Jesus. The Capuchin friar was later replaced by the Jesuit Angelo Italia, who completed the Chapel in 1686.
The whole structure obviously reflects Roano’s taste and his time’s aesthetics: it is a polychrome triumph of marble, spiral columns, and wall decorations in inlaid marble and wood.
Here is a glimpse of this amazing Baroque wonder.