Walking down the pathway to Sorrento’s Marina Grande, the vibrant green and yellow cupola of the Chiesa di Sant’Anna stands out among the rooftops. Located in this seaside port, the church faces toward the water and has a historical and lasting connection with the fishermen of the village.
The Origins of the Chiesa di Sant’Anna
The earliest mentionings of the church date back to the 14th century.
The local fishermen of the Confraternita di San Giovanni in Fontibus financed its construction at the time, thus explaining why it is so tied to the sea.
At the time of its inception, the church was dedicated to San Giacomo della Marca, then it was rededicated to the Souls in Purgatory in 1680.
Only a foundation of the church existed for parishioners at that time, but in the early 1800s the current building was built and refurbished over the course of the 19th century.
As it was being restored though, there was a push to reconsecrate the church in honor of Sant’Anna following a surgance in recognition and preachings of the saint in the 16th century.
Sant’Anna was the mother of Mary, and so the maternal grandmother of Jesus. It was preached that it was the strong faith and devotion of Sant’Anna that gave Mary the strength to stand by the Cross as her Son was crucified.
The church was officially consecrated in 1945 as a civil parish and it celebrates the name saint on July 26th each year with commemorative lights around Marina Grande, a large procession, and a fireworks show accompanied by classical music.
The Connection to the Sea
The glistening of the sea accentuates the stained glass door of the church, making the mosaic shine from the natural light, especially in the early morning as the sun rises.
Depicted in the stained glass are the images of Jesus coming before fishermen at sea, showing the intrinsic connection between the church and the local fishermen who founded it.
The bells of the church chime not only to call to mass, but on the hour and quarter hours to signify to fishermen at sea the time.
Going down to the port from Via Marina Grande, a passerby on the path is equally distanced from the water and the distinctive beige and pink church.
On the high altar in a golden niche, is a small Baroque temple where there is a statue of Sant’Anna.
In the church is also a handmade wooden carving of Christ Crucified situated behind the priest’s chair that stands over 3 meters tall, as well as an 18th century sculpture of San Giovanni Battista.
Though the area tends to be quieter in the winter, in the busy summer months at the port the church is a beautiful and serene place for contemplation.
The gabled church has a single nave with a semicircular apse.
Two upper stained glass windows also shine onto the altar and religious paintings adorn the ceiling and above the altar.
Niches with aedicules are on either side of the church and the floor is made of polychrome marble in a checkerboard pattern.
From outside the church, the bell tower can be viewed on the church’s right side with an onion shaped cupola embellished with green and yellow scalloped tiles.
Situated in its own small piazza, the Chiesa di Sant’Anna looks out to the sea.