The Italian Catholic Church is one of the most important reflections of multicultural life in Mersin, which hosts many different cultures and civilizations. Unlike other Anatolian cities, the population of Mersin consisted mainly of Christian Greeks and Catholics.
The bell tower of the Latin Italian Catholic Church, located on Uray Street in Mersin city center, resembles a lighthouse because it was right next to the sea when the building was first built. Worship continues in the church, which is 300 meters inland from the beach with the filling of the sea.
In 1843, P. Francesco of Pleghe (Italy), who was in charge of Franciscan-Capucian priests in Cukurova, Lebanon and Syria, considered the necessity of a place of worship to meet the religious needs of the Catholics in Tarsus. Father Giuseppe of Genova, who served as a priest in Lebanon, was sent to Tarsus in 1844. The construction of the church began with the decree of Sultan Abdulmecid in 1855.
Father Vincenzo of Serravezz, who assumed the task of his assistant with Father Antonio in Tarsus, moved to Mersin, opened a temporary place of worship on the purchased land and four classes for the education of the children of Catholics here, and named it Saint Antuan College from Padova.
Together with the Kapusenler Monastery, which is next to the church, the buildings were completed in 1898. The management and responsibility of the completed church and monastery was given to the Lebanese priests. The clock tower complex of the Italian Catholic Church, which is a monumental building with a courtyard made of cut limestone, resembles a lighthouse due to its location on the seafront when it was first built.
With the filling of the sea, the church 300 meters from the coast and was accepted as a reference point by the ships approaching the port in Mersin.
The name of the church was changed by the Vatican in 1991 as the Italian Catholic (Cathedral) Church and was tied to the Catholic churches in South Anatolia, Southeast Anatolia, the Black Sea Region, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Russia. The church is still open to worship today for the Catholic community in Mersin and its region.
Mass is said at 11am on Sunday year-round. On other days, it is at 6pm (April to October) or 5pm (November to March).
The French consulate was located in the northern part of the church for a long time. And the church has a very nice garden. Colorful flowers and plants all around give the atmosphere of a botanical garden.