The church was erected in 1143 in honour of the Virgin by George of Antioch, admiral of Roger II; its other name of La Martorana is derived from Aloisia Martorana, foundress of the adjoining convent, to which the church was annexed in 1433.
In the course of the centuries, the original structure has undergone considerable demolitions and alterations, particularly in the 16c, when the present Baroque facade was erected.
The central apse was destroyed in 16 c.
In 1221 it was entrusted to the Greek clergy and then, in 1433, to the Benedictine convent established by the noblewoman Eloisa Martorana in 1194, which explains the additional name given to the church.
The remaining Norman elements are the bell tower, the domed roof and the external walls with blind arcading around the windows.