Chiesa di San Gaetano alle Grotte
Piazza Carlo Alberto 74, Catania
The first church , according to historical evidence, was built in 262 or III century in a lava cave already used as a cistern, and dedicated to Santa Maria. The temple was most likely enlarged in the seventh century, and perhaps in this period arose the apogee church of San Gaetano , at that time perhaps entitled Santa Maria La Grotta.
In the 8th century, with the Muslim conquest of Sicily, the upper church was demolished or, probably, abandoned. With the advent of the Normans the church was restored and perhaps to this period the large columns of the presbytery date back, while access to the underground church was reduced, which thus became the crypt for the upper temple, through the construction of a steep staircase in lava stone.
The lower temple, periodically flooded due to the presence of the source that fed the old well, was soon clogged with muddy debris and fell into oblivion. Only in 1558 the building was vacated and cleaned up, by the Carmelite friars.
On June 5, 2009, it was chosen as the setting for the “investiture” ceremony of the new members of the International Christian Cavalry Union (known by the acronym UCCI), celebrated by Lo Curto himself. In the same period, inside the hypogeal church the functions of the Moldovan Orthodox Church of Parohia Sfintei Muceniţe Agafia din Catania take place.