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The Cathedral of Ajaccio

Ajaccio, cathedral of Nôtre–Dame de l’Assomption
Ajaccio, cathedral of Nôtre–Dame de l’Assomption

The construction of the current cathedral of Ajaccio, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, began in 1554, and the church was consecrated in 1593 as a replacement for an earlier one that had been demolished a few decades earlier. The warm ochre façade, restored in the 1990s, faces the Corsican sea, providing spiritual protection to the city and to its maritime activities.
The building, which was commissioned by Monsignor Giulio Giustiniani (whose noble coat of arms, a castle and an eagle with spread wings, can be seen above the portal), is smaller than originally planned and has three naves, with a not very considerable transept and a large choir. Along the lateral naves there are three chapels per side. The most important of these is dedicated to Nostra Signora della Misericordia. There one finds a statue of the Madonna that is an exact reproduction of one venerated in Savona and called the Madonnuccia by the people of Ajaccio, solemnly celebrated on 18 March in memory of the image’s protection of the city from the plague in 1661.
On 21 July 1771, Napoleon was baptized in the Ajaccio Cathedral, one year old at the time. His sister Marie–Anne was also baptized at that time, just over one month old, but died not long after. The act of the baptism, indicating the godparents of the future emperor (Lorenzo Giuberga and Geltruda Bonaparte, the best friend and second older sister of his father, Carlo), is kept in the cathedral registry.
On a pillar near the entrance, a plaque topped with a capital N crowned with laurel, recalls the last will expressed by Napoleon from his exile on Saint Helena: if they did not want his body to be returned to Paris, he wished to be buried near his ancestors in the Ajaccio Cathedral, in Corsica. Tradition in fact assigns the chapel of the Madonna del Rosario, consecrated in 1765, to the Bonaparte family.
Inside the church, in the chapel dedicated to Nostra Signora del Pianto, one can admire wall paintings attributed to Domenico del Tintoretto and a small painting by Delacroix depicting the Virgin of the Sacred Heart (1822).

Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Rue Forcioli–Conti

Open every day 9 AM to 6 PM

Entrance free of charge