Churches of Castelforte
The Church of San Giovanni Battista
A flight of steps lead up to the Church of San Giovanni Battista which is located in the highest area of the town. The original small church was founded between the years of 1000 and 1100. It was built in a Romanesque style with a rose window on the facade and a bell tower. Inside it had a single nave. Over the years the church underwent certain moderations. In the 1600’s the church was enlarged with side aisles.
Sadly the church was almost completely destroyed during the bombing and shelling of Castelforte during World War II. After the war the new church was built on the original foundations using many of the original materials. It was designed by Gaetano Rapisardi and was inaugurated in 1953. The Civic Tower stands beside the church. The main facade is adorned with a group of sculptures in copper, by the sculptor Ercole Drei, which depict the Baptism of Christ. San Giovanni is the patron saint of the town. Inside the church there are three valuable statues that date from the 18th century: these are Saint John the Baptist, Saint Peter the Apostle and the Virgin of the Rosary. These works are by the Neapolitan sculptor Domenico Muollo. There is also a statue of the Madonna Addolerata. She is said to have put an end to the cholera epidemic that struck the area in 1837.
The Church of San Rocco
The old Church of San Rocco was situated outside of the town walls, and was built in the late 1600’s and modified in the following century. The saint, San Rocco, is said to have at some time in his life been afflicted by the plague, however he went on to make a good recovery. Thus, during the Middle Ages, it was believed that the saint could protect people from illness and epidemics and that San Rocco had the ability to heal patients suffering from the plague and other diseases such as cholera. Therefore a hospital was constructed annexed to the church. The old church was totally destroyed during World War II. In the 1960’s a new modern church was constructed in its place designed by Gaetano Rapisardi. The interior has a glass dome and the Baroque altar was rescued from the old damaged church. To either side of the altar are statues of San Rocco and San Sabastiano.
There is also the small church of San Nicola and another dedicated to Beata Maria Taigi e Sant’Erasmo in nearby Valle Suio.