Cathedral of Our Lady of the People
Wanted by a king (Charles II of Naples) and named after another (his son Robert), since its founding Cittaducale has been a trade town and a stronghold at the border, expanding steadily and increasing its power throughout the centuries.
It does not come as a surprise that on 24th January 1502 it was promoted to episcopal see by Pope Alexander VI Borgia, acquiring territories from Rieti’s diocese. It stayed as such for more than three hundred years, before going back to being fused together with Rieti; today, it is a titular see, like Athens, whose titular archbishop was once born in Contigliano. At the heart of Cittaducale’s diocese there used to be its cathedral, dedicated to Our Lady of the People and located in Cittaducale’s main square - which is, of course, ‘Piazza del Popolo’ (People’s Square) - the place where all of the town’s quarters converge.
Erected between the 13th and 14th century, the church is characterised by a Romanesque facade of Abruzzese style, even though it includes a rose window and three portals, elements that are usually found in Gothic architecture. The three-aisled interior was abundantly redecorated after the earthquake in 1703, when the original roof trusses were replaced by the current wooden panelled ceiling, complete of beautiful golden frames. Also the monumental organ above the portal dates back to the 18th century.
In the high altar are preserved the icon of Our Lady of the People and the body of Saint Julian, who suffered martyrdom by beheading in the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian. Behind the altar there is a wonderful walnut wood choir. The two side aisles have three altars each, with notable canvases above them; on the left you can maybe recognise Saint Felix of Cantalice, whereas on the right are twins St. Benedict and St. Scholastica of Nursia, as well as a wooden statue of Saint Magnus of Anagni, Cittaducale’s patron saint. St. Magnus is also portrayed on the lunette at the entrance together with Saint Emygdius, invoked against earthquakes. Moreover, along the left aisle you will find the beautiful Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, preceded by a wrought-iron gate and decorated with paintings depicting the Eucharist and scenes from the Old Testament.
Finally, at the back of the church there are the bell tower and the Episcopal Palace, built in 1623. The palace is characterised by a big hall retracing the diocese’s history through frescoes by Ascanio and Vincenzo Manenti.