The Cathedral of Matera is dedicated to Maria Santissima della Bruna and Saint Eustace and is situated in the Civita few steps far from the Residence San Gennaro. The construction works started in 1230, in place of the Benedictine Monastery of Saint Eustace. The base was made 6 meters higher so it could dominate the Civita and Sassi from above, and for this reason you can see the Cathedral from every part of the ancient city.
In the central facade there is a Romaneque rose window, surmounted by the Archangel Michael, which recalls the concept of the wheel of fortune. In the tympanum of the main door there is the statue of the Madonna della Bruna that during the Festival in honour of the Patron Saint is carried in a procession along the streets of the city. The 52 meters tall steeple overhangs the both Sassi, Caveoso and Barisano.
The interior of the Cathedral is a latin cross with aisles divided by round arches. On the ‘Bruna‘ altar is situated a valuable fresco in byzantine style representing the Madonna della Bruna with Child.
On the night of 2 July the float moves towards the town and arrives in Piazza Duomo where it leaves the statue of the Virgin and make three turns of the square to symbolize that the city belongs to her Patron Saint. At the end of the three turns it returns to the center of Piazza Vittorio Veneto where in the frenzy, the crowd of spectators rips papier machè relics off the chariot which is completely destroyed in a matter of seconds.
Many people don’t know that there are two statues of ‘Madonna della Bruna’, one called the “Brave” because is used during the float procession through the streets of the city, and the other called the “Coward” that remains in the Cathedral exhibited for the veneration of the faithful.