Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

 entry June 2003

hurch of Sant' Eligio

The French Gothic church of Sant’Eligio was built during the reign of Charles of Anjou by the same congregation that built the nearby Sant’Eligio hospital in 1270. It is the first church built in Naples by the Angevin French. Little remains of the original structure. The arched passageway that opens onto Piazza Mercato (Market Square) is through the original façade of the church and has since been incorporated into the structure of the ancient hospital. 

Many of the lines of the original structure came to light only in the course of restoration after the bombardments of  WWII. Much of the painted ornamentation adorning the church only goes back to the risanamento, the great urban renewal of Naples in the last years of the 19th century. Sant’Eligio and a number other Gothic structures in the area were restored in this fashion. 

It is interesting to me how in the long history of a city such as Naples the center of town shifts over the centuries. The Church of Sant'Eligio at one time opened onto the most important part of the city, Piazza Mercato (see here and here). This is where crowds gathered, where revolutions started, and where public executions were held. It is, today, anonymous and totally ignored, having been cut off from the rest of the city by the constructions of the risanamento. It is also adjacent to the entry to the industrial port of Naples and, as such, was heavily bombed in WW2. It is a mile removed from where the great cruise liners disgorge tourists and money into the new center of town, Piazza Municipio.

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