The basilica of Santa Maria in Porto is an important place of Catholic worship in Ravenna It is located on Via Roma, the main road, which crosses the centre of the city from north to south, not far from Porta Nuova. It is home to the Sanctuary of the Madonna Greca (The Greek Virgin), Patroness Saint of Ravenna.
In the first half of the fifteenth century, the Canons Regular of Santa Maria in Porto decided to build their monastery in the city of Ravenna, next to the church of Santa Maria in Porto Fuori. However, the Venetians imposed that the monastery be built within the walls of the city.
Land was bought then near the Porta Nuova, the then southern end of the town. Houses that were occupying the land were demolished on August 5, 1496. The construction of the monastery was started in the same year to end thirteen years later, in 1509, although the canons settled there since 1503.
In 1511 Pope Julius II lived there during his trip to Romagna and in that same year, the project for the church construction was presented to him by Bernardino Tavella. Construction of the church began in 1553 and lasted several decades: The coverage of the nave was built in 1561 , while the consecration took place on October 8, 1606, by the Archbishop of Ravenna and Cardinal Camerlengo Pietro Aldobrandini. In 1710 the new altar was built, and in 1784, the façade was completed, by Camillo Morigia.
In 1797 the church suffered the effects of the French invasion. The sanctuary was stripped and plundered and the monks were expelled. The following year both the monastery and the church were closed, and were subsequently used as a military barracks. In 1828 the monastery was re-opened but it was closed again in 1886 because of new ecclesiastical laws. The monastery became a confectionery factory.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the church of Santa Maria in Porto was ceded to the diocesan clergy, becoming a parish seat. On the initiative of Archbishop Vincenzo Moretti (1871-1879) and his successors the cult of the Madonna Greca was restored. On 21 April 1900, in its eighth centenary celebrations, the image of the Virgin was solemnly crowned.
July 24, 1944, the church was hit by an unexploded bomb in the choir. The damage was later restored. Today the monastery is partly used as a dwelling of the monks of the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit, who officiate the church still, and in part it is the seat of the Municipal Art Gallery (since 1972 ).
This post is part of the Scenic Weekends meme,
and also part of the Spiritual Sundays meme,
and also part of the inSPIREd Sunday meme.