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Uncover Piana degli Albanesi: the Chapel of "Santa Maria dell'Angelo"

Updated: Jul 4, 2022

Haste and running very often distracts us from the beauties and stories we encounter on the road we travel. This statement is perfectly suited to a Chapel or rather to two Chapels that we wish you to discover.

This is the old chapel of Santa Maria dell'Angelo in Piana degli Albanesi which, due to the construction of a link road connecting a provincial road, pushes Papas Stefano Plescia to promote the construction of a new chapel about one hundred and thirty meters away.

Today, as you will see from the photos, the new chapel needs a lot of care and immediate maintenance interventions in order not to compromise the sumptuous mosaic works it preserves.

The good news is that a spontaneous committee of faithful wants to preserve these chapels and therefore if someone wants to support these maintenance works, they can do so in a concrete way by donating here (causal Cappella Madonna Angelo).

We found the original text by Papas Stefano Plescia which we publish in its entirety together with the prayer written for the Madonna dell'Angelo by Zef Schirò Di Maggio.

Enjoy the reading

Salvatore Vasotti

Mosaico madonna
Mosaico Cappella Madonna dell'Angelo Santo

Cappella Piana degli Albanesi
Nuova Cappella "Madonna dell'Angelo Santo"

The Chapel of "Santa Maria dell'Angelo" by Papas Stefano Plescia

Certainly the kingdom of God does not consist at all in buildings of piety.

They have relative value.

However, they are indispensable for the propagation of the faith and for the defense of the Christian message.

The road, unlike the little-frequented churches in urban centers, is traveled by everyone.

A church would have to be made of the road to reach and seize the moment to convey the message.

All men need heavenly protection in all places, even on the street, and in all their actions.

For this reason the chapel will be a call to prayer and prudence.

In promoting the work, the DIOCESAN CARITAS intended to carry out its task of promotion and evangelization with humility.

Caritas is openness and understanding towards the brother but it is at the same time love, gratitude and fidelity to the Lord.

The construction of the chapel in honor of the Madonna is a moment of charity and a reminder of this duty for all passers-by for whom the protection of the Lord must be implored against the dangers of the road.

On the occasion of the Marian year 1387-1988 it was considered right and right to accept the invitation of the faithful and offer collaboration for the reconstruction of the Chapel, a concrete testimony of love for the Madonna, restoring what our fathers had built in her honor with serious sacrifices. since 1600.

In the "Stretto" locality, in the territory of the Municipality of Piana degli Albanesi (PA), there was a chapel dedicated to the Madonna Odigitria: "Santa Maria dell'Angelo" since 1600. It was placed on the edge of the royal trazzera which in ancient times allowed the Albanian community of Piana (Hora1 and Arbereshevet) to communicate with Palermo2 (Hora and Madhe).

The chapel with the effigy of Odigitria stood right in the place where popular tradition has it that the famous painting of Odigitria was found by the Arbëresheë after it had been stolen by unknown thieves.

Popular tradition reports that the Angel of the Lord intervened surprising the thieves who, terrified, abandoned the painting.

The territory above is called "the territory of the Holy Angel" (Sën Ënxhëlli 3) in memory and in gratitude for the rescue carried out by the Angel of the Lord.

The picture of the Odigitria is the famous icon that our ancestors brought as a guide and protector in their wanderings, after having strenuously defended the homeland from the Turkish invader. The Arbëreshë to save their faith and not to succumb in the face of the overwhelming superiority of the infidel, preferred to detach themselves from their possessions and set out on the streets of exile.

Subsequently a new road was built by the Bourbons to connect Piana with Palermo and the old trazzera regia was used only to reach the rural farms. But the chapel, although isolated and out of the way, always remained - for its historical, religious and cultural value - an uninterrupted period of pilgrimage and a place of prayer for many faithful.

It stimulated the commitment to continue over time and to keep alive the traditions, historical and cultural values ​​of the Albanian ethnic group.

During the period of the liberal-Garibaldi riots it was a place of gathering and meditation for young patriots. Tradition has it that Garibaldi himself stopped in the open space in front, and spent the night in the building next to the chapel (Perivoli i Zotit Rush), thanks to the fact that there was, and still is, an abundant spring nearby.

Following the construction (1984-1985) of the provincial road n. 116, called Circumvallazione di Piana, most of the area of ​​the chapel was occupied by the new road. The rest, due to road layout needs, came to be raised and curved, with the preclusion of its use as a place of worship, both for the consequent reduction of the usable space, and for the extreme dangerous condition in which it came to be. following the use of the road that at that point winds its way into a curve with little visuality.

In order to ensure continuity with the historical-cultural tradition, the Diocesan Caritas of the Eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi, urged for this purpose by numerous people, took charge of promoting the reconstruction of the chapel in the immediate vicinity, in a safer place. and easy to access.

Thanks to the understanding and collaboration of the Regional Province of Palermo, the wall structures marked by the characteristic line of Byzantine architecture have been completed.

The new chapel arouses curiosity at the sight of those traveling the road towards Piana and suggests the feeling of being in different places than the rest of the Province of Palermo.

A small strip of Byzantine land.

On the occasion of the chirotonia of the new Bishop of Piana degli Albanesi H.E. Mons.Sotir Ferrara, being in Piana S.E. Stephan Miroslav Marusyn, Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches in the Vatican, H.E. Anarjiro Prindezis, Exarch of the Catholics of the Greek rite in Greece, H.E. Nik Prela, Archbishop of the Catholics of Kosova (former Yugoslavia) and numerous other personalities, both religious and civil, all expressed their applause and admiration for the suggestive and characteristic chapel. The choirs, moreover, from the Byzantine cathedrals of Bucharest and Athens, who came to Palermo on the occasion of the celebration of the eight hundred years of the foundation of the cathedral of Palermo (November 1987), gathered around it moved and in their press expressed enthusiastic admiration and very flattering judgments, highlighting the harmony of the lines.

The interior of the dome is covered with mosaics depicting theological motifs of Byzantine spirituality that refer to the great monuments of Cefalù, Monreale, Ravenna and the Palatine Chapel. The icon of the Madonna, painted by the master Antonino Mandalà in 1987, is of the Glykophilousa-Eleousa-Misericordiosa type. Glykophilousa means she who gently embraces. The two figures, the Mother and the Son, embrace each other with an expression of tender sweetness and at the same time express high spirituality.

In this type of icon, sentiment predominates. The cheeks of the Child and the Mother approach, the Child pushes the affection up to encircle the neck of the Mother with his arm. The term Eleousa designates precisely the loving attitude of the Mother aimed at arousing pity (Eleos), and the mercy of the Son towards the faithful.

The value of the Mother's intercession in favor of humanity is thus highlighted and therefore her position as Co-redemptrix of humanity.

Scholars say that this type of icon is always a derivation of Odigitria. While in the Hodegetria the divinity of the Son is emphasized, which the Mother points out to us and offers us as a Guide, in the Eleousa the humanity with which the Son of God was wished to clothe himself in order to exercise his brotherhood with all the creatures of the Father is highlighted.

The unity between the Mother and the Son is a sign of a call to the unity between the Creator and the creature.

It should be noted the linear correspondence of the eyes between the Mother and the Son, to demonstrate, in the convergence of the gaze, the perfect connection of the Redeemer and the Co-redemptrix in harmony with Marian Theology, which the artist professor Antonio Mandalà wanted to highlight.

In it there is an expression of love, devoid of sentimentality, but very rich in intensity and dramatic force. The whole is serenely composed and regal.

The icon, before being placed in the chapel, was requested in several exhibitions. Particularly relevant was the exhibition in the exhibition Millenni di Storia in the light of the sun at the festival "Italy on Stage 1988" in Australia from 5 to 15 October 1988 as part of the celebrations for the bicentenary of Australia.

In the adjacent garden a fountain will rise to offer travelers with the joy of a pleasant glance, even the coolness of the gushing water. Engraved on a stone is an invitation to those on the road to walk the paths of truth and righteousness in order to reach the goal safely, and together it offers the wish to walk in the joyful certainty of doing their own good.

The cross that surmounts the whole recalls a motif dear to the Christians of the first centuries. It is surrounded by a garland (symbol of victory) to signify that the Cross not only remembers the condemnation and death of Jesus, but rather his triumph and the victory of Good over Evil.

Papas Stefano Plescia

The prayer for "Santa Maria dell'Angelo" by Zef Schirò Di Maggio


As the Angel of God wants,

which stopped the race one day

of the thief who trafficked

that choice your icon,

here we honor you today

and with songs we praise you,

Holy Virgin Mary,

with the Child ch'in sen keep.

Here gathered, temperate,

where we raised an altar to You,

we swear that Christians

for the eternal we will stay.

here we honor you today, .....

From your newsstand look

our wayfarer and others'

that even if today is hastening

Your name is not forgotten.

here we honor you today, .....

From your newsstand offer

to the country of protection,

for forever and ever

our offspring last.

here we honor you today, .....



  1. Hora (town) is a Greek term. The Arbëreshë of Piana love to indicate their country with this voice. Hora e madhe (the big town) is Palermo.

  2. Currently it is located at the beginning, just 1 Km. Of the ring road, East-South-East, which from Piana degli Albanesi leads to the provincial road to Palermo).

  3. Sën Ënxhëlli or Sën Ëngjëlli is the toponym of the contrada dell'Angelo Santo, where the Chapel is located. The corresponding literary form is Shën Ëngjëlli as reported in the concluding poetic text. (N.d.A.)




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