The Church of Santa Maria del Gesù, also known as Casa Professa (Professing House), was founded in 1564 as a part of the Jesuit College complex of the same name. The church was completely transformed between 1591 and 1633, as the partition walls between the lateral chapels were demolished in order to obtain two aisles, and new chapels were built. The Renaissance-style facade, with a central niche above the entrance holding a Madonna della Grotta statue, does not completely prepare one for the grandeur of the interiors. Inside, an uninterrupted decoration of multicolored marble inlays, bas-reliefs and stuccoes by Giacomo and Procolpio Serpotta represent a fancy range of subjects: plants, animals, monsters, angels, and scenes from the Bible. This major example of Sicilian baroque art was expressely conceived to amaze and show the power of the Jesuit Order. During the World War II bombing the dome and the central vault where destroyed, and later rebuilt, but the apse preserves the original decorations. Here the three groupings of theatrical white marble sculptures by Gioacchino Vitagliano, designed by Giacomo Serpotta, representing David and Achimelech on the right, David and Abigail on the left, and the Trinity in the middle, are set against wonderful landscape backdrops of polychrome stone inlays.
- Open Hours: Sunday to Saturday from 08:00 AM to 11:30 AM, Sunday to Saturday from 05:00 AM to 06:30 PM