St. John the Baptist between religion and history

campanile-buonopaneFather Francesco Felice Mattera (for all known as Don Franco) is pastor of St. John the Baptist in Buonopane since October 4, 1977, 37 years to the service of his community which in the month of June is celebrating its patron.
We entertain a chat with him on the eve of the Feast 2014 to rediscover what has been the history of the Parish of Buonopane and the cult of Saint John the Baptist.

It is believed that already in 1210 there was in Buonopane a chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist, founded almost certainly by Cossa, a noble family of Ischia: it corresponds to the current aisle of the parish, with a typical barrel vault. The Cossa family had built so that it could serve as a place of worship for the farmers of the various houses of Buonopane: Candiano, Ritola, Vado Michele; a little digress which concerns the etymology of the name Buonopane, which would seem to have nothing in common with the bread, rather it derives from the Greek Mur - Pan: all cave (or all valleys), which also explains the position of the village just between the two "caves" of Pallarito and Nitrodi.
Returning to the Chapel built by Cossa, many farmers in the area drew spiritual benefits and they would have also numerous, reminds us of Don Franco, if in 1268 Carlo of Anjou condemned the inhabitants of this land to pay because 11 of them had supported Conrad of Swabia in the fight against him, and taxed the ‘buonopanesi’ with a tax equal to the tax to Forians, who had also supported for the most part Conradin of Swabia.
As it is, there is no doubt that the environment all around the Parish "knows" of Greece, ancient stories of farmers and ranchers as well which tells Giuseppe D’Ascia in his "Storia dell’Isola d’Ischia" (1864 ):
"Avanti la chiesa vi è un atrio spazioso, e molto arieggiato, ove i naturali si radunano nei dì festivi, e mentre i maturi padri si trattengono a discorrere delle fasi della luna, e fanno i loro prognostici sulle future raccolte, e sui correnti prezzi de’ vini e delle mele; i giovani discorrono di caccia, le forosette di amori, e le attempate madri del prezzo della canape, del lino, e delle tele, e dell’occupazione dei loro telai, della poca puntualità delle loro committenti, mezzane, o compratrici".
We’re probably in the presence of the oldest parish in the municipality of Barano, because it was already defined in an act of 1524 of Notary G. Battista Funereo, so it can be assumed that even before this date, the Church of St. John the Baptist was the Parish Church; of course we know with almost absolute certainty that it was not the parish before 1300, due to the existence of a monastery dedicated to St. Costanzo in Toccaneto, then subsequently disappeared.
Another important historical document is dated October 9, 1537, when Bishop Augustine Falivene (1534-1548) granted to the Church of St. John the Baptist, a patronage that would serve to cause an economic benefit to the place: this benefit to the parish was first managed by the Mellusi Family and in 1700 passed to the family Cervera prior to its termination in 1800.
The Church of Buonopane suffered serious damage after the earthquake of 1881 and after that one of 1883, then was restored and covered with sheet metal and wood support then removed and replaced with reinforced concrete in 1961, during the work performed until 1964 by parish priest Fr Vincenzo Mattera, when was also realized the new floor and covered the two shrines present in the Parish (one below the central nave and one above the lateral one), where the dead were buried until 1800.
The list of the parish priests began in 1617 with Don Antonio Di Mauro, while Don Franco tells us to be the 17th pastor of St. John the Baptist, who succeeded in 1977 to Don Vincenzo Mattera, a native of Serrara.
An important work to emphasize from inside the building is certainly the picture that portrays the Baptist, on the main altar, it was donated in 1886 by Don Matteo Baldino from Fiaiano, as reported by the plaque placed at the altar, according to the Superintendent it is the work of the great Neapolitan painter Massimo Stanzione; some have come to assume that this framework belongs to the school of Caravaggio for the characteristics all too similar to those of the illustrious Italian painter, it is more likely that Massimo Stanzione was the architect, while feeling the influence of Caravaggio.

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Info on Ischia island

  • Surface: 46 Kmq
  • Hight: 789 mt
  • Lat.: 40° 44',82 N
  • Long.: 13° 56',58 E
  • Periplus: 18 miglia
  • Coasts: 51.2 Km
  • Cities: 6
  • Inhabitants: 58.029


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