Church of Saint Felix of Cantalice
The stunning sanctuary towering over the whole village of Cantalice is ‘the most beautiful temple we have’, according to 19th-century historian Andrea Fulio Bragoni. But it does not come as a surprise, considering how much St. Felix is loved by his fellow citizens.
The square where the church is located is at the end of a bottleneck in the old town fortification, and overlooks Rieti’s Plain and lakes offering a superb view. Next to the church is its high bell tower, whereas on the right are the headquarters of the Brotherhood of Saint Felix, Cantalice’s coat of arms on its façade. Between the 17th and 18th century, it was the brotherhood that pushed for the church to be built on the site of the saint’s old house, a privileged place under every aspect, both geographical and spiritual.
In the majestic façade, two niches host statues of St. Felix and Saint Gregory the Great. The interior has a Latin Cross plan and is all in Baroque style, as it can be easily deduced from the abundance of faux polychrome marble and lavish golden decorations in capitals and frames. Interesting are also the pipe organ, dating back the 18th century, and the dome, where several miracles performed by the saint are depicted.
The high altar, in polychrome stucco, is framed by two sturdy tortile columns; above the altar, an altarpiece portrays the Virgin Mary handing Saint Felix the Child, in presence of putti and in front of a landscape resembling the one near Rome.
The church has four chapels, two on each side. On the left, the first is dedicated to St. Joseph, the second to St. Lawrence. On the right side, the first is consecrated to Pope Saint Gregory the Great, first patron saint of Cantalice, whereas the second to the Madonna of the Rosary, with fifteen ovals depicting the Mysteries of the Rosary.
Inside the sacristy is preserved a precious relic of St. Felix, held inside a finely decorated wooden case. Finally, the church hosts the statue of the saint, wearing his usual Capuchin habit and holding the Child in his arms. Every year on 18th May, on the occasion of his feast day, the statue is carried in procession by the members of his Brotherhood.