The Cathedral of Ajaccio, which is also known as Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption d’Ajaccio, was completed in 1593, and Napoleon Bonaparte was baptized in this very church in 1771.
Construction on the building was commenced during 1559, after the senate of Genoa and pope Gregorius XIII gave a commission to build a cathedral to Ajaccio in 1553, to replace Saint-Croix church, which was demolished to make way for the city’s defensive walls.
The new cathedral was completed in 1593, and it was dedicated to the “Dormition of the Theotokos”.
In terms of measurements, the church is not a large construct, and, for example, the cross-shaped construction is very shallow for the nave sections.
PHOTO: The cathedral as seen from Avenue E. Macchini which goes in front of the building, right next to the Place de Gaulle square, from where you can find the “Napoleon et Ses Frèrès” monument.
There are a total of seven charming side chapels in the church, as well as an impressive dome structure, all which give the church a look and feel of an authentic cathedral.
The baptismal font is a very simple, Tuscany-style bronze cup, with an insignia of Jules Giustiniani, who acted as the bishop of Ajaccio during the period when the construction on the church was completed.
There is also a gold-lettered latin writing on the cup, stating: “Heic baptisatus Imperator Magnus” or “The Great Imperator Was Baptized Here”.
The church altar has been moved to the cathedral from the Dei Suffraganti church in Lucca, and it was a gift from one of the sisters of Napoleon, Elisa Bacciochi, Princess of Lucca and Piombino.
Among the most interesting details in the building include its chapels, especially the “Chapelle de la Vierge de la Miséricorde”, which has been dedicated to the protector of Ajaccio: “La Madunuccia”, and contains a statue of Virgin Mary.
On the other hand, the smaller “Chapelle de la Madonna del Pianto” is a significant part of the church due to having famous paintings by Domenico Tintoretto.
It has been documented that when Napoleon was dying at the island of St. Helena, he said:
“If they deny my dying body, as they have denied my living body, a piece of land to settle on, I want to be buried among my ancestors, to the Cathedral of Ajaccio in Corsica.”
This citation has been carved into the marble plaque next to the entrance, showcasing how important this church was to Napoleon during his life.