The Cathedral of Gaeta Sant’Erasmo and San Marciano of Gaeta
The ancient Cathedral of Gaeta, dedicated to Sant’Erasmo and San Marciano was consecrated in 1106. It was built on the ruins of the 7th century church of Santa Maria del Parco which stood outside the town walls. Following a severe earthquake in Gaeta in 1231 the church was rebuilt.
Today the main brick facade faces onto the narrow Via del Duomo. It was constructed in 1908 in a Neo-Gothic style. It has an arched portico, a second floor with mullion windows with a travertine blind rose window above. At the top of the Cathedral of Gaeta stands a cast iron statue of the Madonna Immacolata.
Inside the portico there are the two statues of the patron saints Erasmus and Marciano.
The Bell Tower
The entrance of the earlier church is from within the ornate bell tower. This dates from the 12th century and is the work of the architect Nicola d’Angelo. This is a wonderful example of art in a Moorish-Arabic in style and measures 57 meters high. It consists of three floors with mullioned windows topped by an octagonal dome structure with small Romanesque arches and is intricately decorated with majolica. The base has Roman architectural elements incorporated into it. A flight of steps lead up to the porch which has two Roman sarcophagi and two marble bas-reliefs depicting the story of Jonah and the Whale.
The cathedral of Gaeta contains the relics of Sant’ Erasmo which, during the time of numerous Saracen invasions, were transferred here for safe keeping from the nearby town of Formia. Thus Erasmo is the Patron Saint of both Gaeta and Formia. The statues of Sant’ Erasmo and San Marciano are kept in the chapel known as the crypt. The church also houses the remains of the saints – Marciano, Probo, Innocenzo, Casto, Secondino, Albina and Euporia.
The church underwent major reconstruction in the 18th century on the behest of the Bourbon King Ferdinand IV. The interior was restored by Pietro Paolo Ferrara in a neoclassical style, however marble columns of the original structure are still in evidence. There is a Baroque polychrome marble altar. The carved wooden choir stalls date from the 16th century. The cathedral contains many works of art such as paintings by Carlo Saraceni, Giacinto Brandi and Giovanni Filippo Crisculo. Also there is a Paschal Candle of the late 13th century topped with a Gothic capitol. It is decorated with bas-relief carvings depicting the lives of Jesus Christ and Sant’Erasmo. Certain areas of floor are decorated with intricate geometric mosaic work by the Cosmati family of craftsmen. There is also an episcopal chair.
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