Basilica paleocristiana  
  Basilica paleocristiana The "early christian basilica" is probably the monument in Paestum which best shows  the signs of the various changes in the eras. Christianity appeared in Paestum in 344 a.d..
During V and VI centuries the old Roman colony was the Bishop's seat and it was in this period that the Basilica was built.

According to De Rosa's opinion the Basilica was built using an "open Basilica" shape and was later transformed into a "closed Basilica", taking its actual structure. After a period of relevant prosperity, the whole of Italy, including Paestum, experienced the blight caused by the barbarian invasions. The city, which was once flourishing, was destroyed by the Saracens and it was reduced to a "field to seed with fodder". These events led to the abandoning of the city, indeed the inhabitants moved towards the surroundings mountains, especially on the "Calpazio Mountain" to find refuge.
The Bishop's seat was also moved from Paestum to "Capaccio", although, until the XII century, the Bishops continued to be called "pestani" (people living in Paestum). The flat area was abandoned and experienced a critical patch which continued all through the 1700s.  We have papal reports (XVII XVIII centuries) which give to evidence of the city's decline and about the inhabitants desperation, as they were reduced to "latrones  alique scelerati homines" (Barbarized people).

Thanks to these documents, today, we know about the historical ups and downs of the "Paleocristian Basilica". According to the Bishops' evidence the old cathedral, dedicated to the "Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin", appears as a sign of the old City's splendour.
It remains today one of the most important religious place in Paestum, where the faithful come in large numbers and where the Bishops come on the feast of the Annunciation to celebrate this religious festival. The monumental building, nevertheless very old, was in a state of ruin and it has been restored more than once.
Regarding this, it is fundamental to mention the Bishop Andrea Bonito's testimony which dates back to 1862. Bonito affirms to have been personally involved in restore the Basilica and he makes reference to precedent rebuilding carried out in about 1504 by Bishop Ludovico Podocataro. This restruction would  have entailed a partial burying of the Church and raised the Church floor 1,10 metres. But the "real restorer" of the Basilica (as De Rosa describes him) was Agostino Odoardi , the diocese's Bishop from 1729.

Odoardi describes the place using pessimistic words, he speaks about a brutalized population, a nonexistent and ruined cathedral which look like a profane place and which was reduced to a pigsty with no sacred furnishings and fittings.
Odoardi, conscious about the farm workers and shepherds' need to have a cult place, and spurred by the "Rediscovery of Paestum" (which was happening in those years), decided to reconstruct the Church starting from the foundations. The floor was raised a further 1,80 metres of its original height; the old face was altered by adding some eighteenth-century style pillars which included the original colonnade. The Front was redone using eighteenth-century decorations and it underwent the raising of the portal which was levelled out and brought to the same level as the previous one.

A bell tower was built on the churchside  and the 2 bells which were installed, are still visible. The first bell on which is written 1732, is still at the entrance, the second one is still installed on the chapel adjoining church. The most recent renovation works (1968), wanted by the Reverend Ercole Alfieri, have brought to light the original aspect of the Basilica, even if it is now included in an architectonical complex which is the result of several changes. During the 18th century the "Palatiolum" was added and it became later the Bishops' house. It is today a good elegant example of that century during which it was built.      

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