It was originally built in the 9th century and then rebuilt in the 13th century.
The oldest part is the crypt which is on the right hand side from the square.
Crypts are usually underground, but here we had to go up a staircase to get there.
There must be some reason behind.
When we arrived there, a mass was being held, so we had to wait outside.
It was not only the end of the mass that we were waiting for, but also the director of the bank, Luigi, whom we met earlier in the day.
He is a member of a religious fraternity called Archconfraternity of the Sacred Mountain of the Dead, founded in the 16th century and he was going to take us to a special room only for the members.
When he arrived, we went in to the crypt where they had been having the mass, which was rather bare brick walled room.
We passed there and stood at the end of the room where there was a door.
When Luigi opened the door and turned on the light, we found a room with the gorgeous decoration, which was completely different from the main part of the crypt.
Luigi arranged the special guide called Marco and he started explaining.
Apparently this room was the special chapel only for the members of the fraternity.
On the ceiling, there was their symbol, which is the combination of a crown, a cross and a skull.
When they restored the altar in 2000, they found a picture of Virgin Mary and Christ which was painted in the 4th century behind the current picture and we saw it.
According to Marco, “Probably because the original picture was not very pretty, people covered it with another picture”.
An interesting thing to note here is that the bare looking crypt used to be as gorgeous as this room in the past, but in 1970s, a person in charge in the cultural department in the town hall decided to destroy it in order to get it back to the original feature.
He apparently believed that the decoration was done in the 19th century, but in fact it was as old as the 16th century and when people realised that, it was too late.
Next to the members’ chapel, there is a meeting room and they kept the old manuscripts from the 17th century in the cupboard.
We saw some of them which were describing about the land the fraternity owned.
On the wall, there were some photographs of the most important festival in Chieti, which is a procession held on Good Fridays.
About 500 members of the fraternity as well as some associated people parade in the town.
They are wearing a mask with the pointed top hiding their faces, which reminded us of Ku Klux Klan in the US and apparently the meaning is ‘cancelling individuality for total penitence’.
There is a ceremony to put the clothes on to the statue of Virgin Mary which is carried during the procession and this role has been done by the women of a prominent family in this town generation after generation.
Some musicians walk with them, too and a relative of our interpreter was called to join them one time, though he was not a member of the fraternity.
I wonder what kind of music they play.
One time I would like to see the procession myself.
On the way back, we got out of the Cathedral from a different way climbing down a long staircase.
When we reached the bottom, I felt I got back to the reality from a kind of wonderland.