When the Normans arrived, the
in Palermo, which was immediately converted into a Christian church, was entrusted to the care of the
, who had taken refuge with the Byzantine clergy in the small church of
, in the Monreale area during the period of Muslim domination.
For a considerable period of time, Palermo Cathedral, which was the largest of the Norman cathedrals in Sicily, retained the structure of the great Gami Mosque, even though it was adapted and re-consecrated for Christian worship. The church underwent extensive renovation and adaptation to meet liturgical requirements. On 15 May 1129, Roger II had a chapel built ‘in cornu evangeli’ dedicated to the Mother of God, the ‘Deipara coronata’.
In this particular Cathedral chapel, Roger II , son of the great Count and first King of Sicily, was crowned on Christmas Eve in 1130: Rex Siciliae, ducatus Apuliae et principatus Capuae, thus becoming Palermo: Prima Sedes, Corona Regis et Regni Caput .
The following year, Roger II’s wife Albiria had the Magdalene Chapel built against the southern wall of the church, ‘ in cornu epistolae ‘, opposite the place where Roger’s coronation took place. The chapel was built as a family mausoleum, to provide a proper burial place for the Norman Dukes and Princes.