Built between 1086 and 1104 AD, the Church of St. Benedict the Abbot is the Mother Church of Cetraro, commissioned and built by the Cassinese monks that gave it the name of the founder of their monastic order. Located close to the city centre, it has undergone several enlargement works over the centuries: it was almost entirely rebuilt in 1767-79 AD and decorated with frescoes in the following years. Because of the damage suffered during the war, the facade was restored in 1950 AD, preserving the original wooden portals made in 1784 AD by local craftsmen. Another interesting element of the facade is the statue of St. Benedict, placed in a niche on the main portal in 1775 AD.
The campanile, or bell tower, was initially one of the civic towers of the Castrum Citrarii and, therefore, had no links with the early church.
The interior has a Latin cross plan and is divided into three aisles. To the left of the entrance there is the baptismal font, which became part of the Church even before the XVIII-century transformations.
Along the left aisle there is a painting by Francesco Basile from Borgia dated 1793, which depicts the Madonna with Child and the Souls of Purgatory . Continuing down the same aisle, there is a second painting, made by the same artist and having as subject the Our Lady of Mount Carmel, depicted with her Child, Saint Joseph and Anne, Francis of Paola and Andrew the Apostle.
In the apse, elevated above the aisles, there is the Baroque high altar, behind which there is a wooden choir dated 1829 AD. On the walls of the apse, there are two frescoes by Basile, dating back to 1791-92 AD: the “Adoration of the Magi” and, on the right, the Presentation at the Temple.
Entirely frescoed by Basile, the vault of the nave has a central representation of the Saint Benedict in Glory, which is inspired by the Triumph of the Dominican Order by Francesco Solimena, located in the sacristy of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples. The two lacunars show Esther and Ahasuerus and the Moses Receiving the Tablets, while the vaults of the large windows show the Apostles.
The right aisle features instead the “Baroque Altar of Our Lady of Sorrows” and a painting by Basile depicting the Communion of the Apostles, an iconographic variant of the Last Supper. The composition scheme of the work is repeated in a painting by an unknown artist preserved in the Cathedral of Squillace (Catanzaro).