Santa Margherita di Belice

December 17, 2014 / Places
Santa Margherita di Belice, Sicily

In 1968, an earthquake in the Belice Valley of western Sicily caused many devastated villages to relocate and start over. Although 60% destroyed, the people of Santa Margherita stayed to rebuild.

Some 40 years later, with town renewal yet progressing, a little miracle of a museum emerged within the remains of the church, “Mother of Graces.” Known now as the Museum of Remembrance, two delicately-sculpted, still-standing walls became half of the reborn structure. Metal and glass walls surround the remaining space, creating a giant “display case.”

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Inside, exhibits show the towns as they appeared before and after the earthquake in photographs and newspapers. One photo records, “Che Dio ci assista” (“God helps us”) poignantly scrawled on a wall. In another, villagers seek the intercession of St. Anthony of Padua. This museum preserves the heart and soul of another place and time.

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

by Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

Maryanne is a teacher, artist, and Italian Notebook enthusiast who lives in New Jersey.

10 Responses to “Santa Margherita di Belice”

  1. Anne Robichaud

    Maryanne, was in Belice not long after the earthquake / 1975 – still remember all the ruins. Your piece convinced me that I must get back. Mille grazie

    Reply
    • Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

      Thank you so much, Anne! I have enjoyed your many contributions and I am grateful for your kind response.

      Reply
    • Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

      My grandparents immigrated from Santa Margherita many years prior to the earthquake, but I imagine they were married in this church. We were very touched to be there.

      Reply
  2. Tom Hartle

    Thank you for your informative piece and the accompanying pictures. I should like to travel there someday. Tanti graze.

    Reply
  3. Marie Giacalone

    We just visited Sicily last October- sorry I missed this, but it is one more reason to return!

    Reply
  4. This is a timely piece for us here in Christchurch, New Zealand. We had a devastating earthquake in 2011, and discussions are starting as to the best way to memorialize this event. Our Cathedral was badly damaged by the quakes and some here wish that it would remain, as this church in Sicily does, as a memorial for the people killed.

    Reply
    • Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

      Thank you for sharing this “parallel” event, Lynne! Your cathedral must be a much larger structure than the church in Santa Margherita. I wish you and your neighbors in Christchurch well in reaching a positive outcome. I find that local museums / memorials really get at the heart of the people who live there, and they make fitting tributes to those who died in disasters such as these.

      Reply
  5. Janine Kish

    I found some more notes from my mother. My great Aunt And Uncle that last owned the Palace before the earthquake were Gaspar and Vinceuza Fasullo. Do you know any history of the palace, or who I could contact about it? I checked my mother’s pictures, and it is the same palace! My daughter is going to visit Sicily at the end of October and wants to visit the museum and maybe try to find a relative! My great Aunt and Uncle had two children, but we think they may have settled in Palermo! Any suggestions on how to find them? Unfortunately I do not have their names. They may be dead by now. My Mom would have been 94 had she lived. These would have been her cousins!

    Reply

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