The church, located inside a municipal villa, was built during the Chiaramonte’s family rule of law, who arrived in Ragusa in 1283. While they were on power, there was a growth of religious buildings in the city and for this reason, probably between 1283 and 1392, the church was erected. To commemorate the ancient origins of the church, an Aragon eagle bringing a red sword is embroidered on the frontal altar. The church had been destroyed by the 1693 earthquake but in 1696 the brotherhood had already started the reconstruction, while at the beginning of the eighteenth century the wooden roof was built. The current façade was designed by Giuseppe Pinelli in 1902.
Today, the façade is divided into three levels. The lower one, with the main entrance between two columns with Corinthian capitals. The second level with a window and a lunette which let the light inside the building. The last one with the bell tower surrounded by railings. Two statutes stand on the sides of these railings, the left one representing San Giacomo as a pilgrim. At the base of the tower there is a high-relief of San Giacomo represented as Matamoros with his sword drawn, and depicted on an horse while trampling a dragon: an unusual iconography which recalls San Giorgio.
Inside the only church’s nave there are eleven altars (five per side), three of which located in the main chapel, richly decorated by Giuseppe Calvo in 1888.
On the high altar it is placed a wooden San Giacomo’s statue of the seventeenth century. It has the stick in his right hand and a shell on his mantle with flower motifs. The author is unknown. The statue was intact after the earthquake and it is now in protected within a glass case.
In the first altar on the right, we find a painting of San Cristoforo represented as a young and old man too, with the Child on his shoulders. The author is Reverend Don Filippo De Stefano from Ferla, who made it in 1720. On the second altar we see a painting representing the “death of the righteous” attributed to Don Giuseppe Pugliarello from Siracusa. The third altar is adorned with a painting dedicated to Madonna della Luce, made by Ignazio Scacco. Finally, the last side altar contains a painting of San Giovanni Evangelista, this too made by Scacco .
Another interesting painting is San Giacomo fighting the Moors, made simultaneously by the two artists Vincenzo Fazello and Ignazio Scacco in 1682, with some restorations added in 1708.
In addition, there is a Madonna del Piliero (from Pilar, referring to the traditional Marian apparition predicted by the Apostle while in a column in Spain) with Glory and cherubs, made by Reverend De Stefano.
The sacristy houses a very ancient pitchstone slab representing the Madonna della Luce (the Virgin of Light), in addition to a carved stone altar made in 1724. A legend says that if you try to move it, it will trigger earthquakes.
Progetto finanziato con risorse di cui al Progetto d'Eccellenza "Culto e cultura - Itinerari di turismo religioso" di cui alla L- 296/2006 art. 1 c. 1228.
TOURIST PACKAGE CONTRACT (Aut. Regione Sicilia N.3743/S. 7 Tur del 22.02.2017)