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Miscellaneous churches (1)
a Formiello is at the extreme eastern end of the
old historic center of the city, near the old eastern wall of the city
and the gate called Porta Capuana. It was founded
about 1510, completed in 1593, and dedicated to the
virgin martyr of Alexandria. It constituted an
important part of an ancient monastery that originally
belonged to the Celestine order and which passed to
the Dominican fathers after 1498. They kept it until
the 19th century, when the monastic
premises were closed and used as a wool factory.
Exceptional frescoes by Luigi Garzi from 1685 and
various 16th century funeral monuments are
kept within the church. The church has a single-aisle
Latin cross interior covered by a barrel vault with
five chapels on either side.
San Giovanni a Carbonara is
at the northern end of via Carbonara, just outside
what used to be the eastern wall of the old city. The
name carbonara (meaning "coal-carrier") was
given to this site allocated for the collection and
burning of refuse outside the city walls in the Middle
Ages. The monastery/ church complex of San Giovanni,
itself, was founded by Augustinians in 1343. The
church was completed in 1418 under King Ladislaus of
Durazzo, who turned the church into a Pantheon-like
tribute to the last of the Angevin rulers of Naples.
It was expanded over the course of the following three
centuries and contains sculptures and artwork of
considerable interest, including the chapels of
Caracciolo del Sole and Caracciolo di Vico.
Caterina a Chiaia (photo left) is also known as
Santa Caterina martire) and is near Piazza dei
Martiri in the western, Chiaia section of the city.
The church was built originally as a small family
chapel by the Forti family and then ceded to the
Franciscan order, which expanded it by 1600. The
church that ones sees today, however, is the result of
a series of remodelings, including one as late as 1732
in the wake of a serious earthquake in that year. The
facade is characterized by a representation of the
Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The main
entrance is marked by a plaque commemorating a
restoration of the facade in 1904. Art work in the
interior is mostly dedicated to the life of Saint
Catherine, including a prominent dome display by
Gustavo Girosi from 1916.
The church of Sant'Anna dei Lombardi (the somber building on the left in this photo) was originally known as Santa Maria di Monteoliveto (Mount of Olives). It is the single remaining religious remnant of what was once the Mount of Olives monastery, founded in 1411. The entire complex was at one time one of the largest monasteries in Italy. Urban renewal from the 1930s literally built around the old monastery, leaving much of the original structure standing in the center. At the east end, the church, itself, is still in use, but the adjacent monastery is now the Pastrengo barracks of the Carabinieri (Italian national police force).
Art within the church and the
façade, itself, display the influence of the
Florentine Renaissance. Within the church are the
monument tomb of Maria d'Aragona, the tomb of
Fontana, and paintings by Giorgio Vasari and
Pedro Rubiales. It is also home to a group sculpture
in terracotta from 1492 by Guido Mazzoni of the Lament over the Dead
Christ. The church once housed three
paintings by Caravaggio:
St. Francis in Meditation, St. Francis
Receiving the Stigmata, and Resurrection; but
they were destroyed in the earthquake of 1805. The
original design of the church was greatly modified in
the 1600s by architect Gian
Battista Cavagna, and the church had to be
restored after the bombings
of WWII. As of February 2009, the church is
again open to visitors.
The church of Santa Maria dell’Aiuto [Saint Mary of Eternal Help or of Succour] is on a small east-west street of that name about 150 yards into the old city across the street (via Monteoliveto) from the east side of the main post office. It is just past the better-known church of Santa Maria la Nova.
The architect was Dionisio Lazzari [see Lazzari, Dionisio(1) (2)] and, in its newly restored condition (after years of being closed), the church may be appreciated for the absolute gem of the Neapolitan Baroque that it was. The historian Celano (writing when the church was new) recounts what has become folklore surrounding the origins of the church—that two children in 1635 posted their own crude drawing of the Blessed Virgin in a window of a lower floor of what was then the Palazzo Pappacoda (not to be confused with a church of a similar name) and collected donations. When they had collected enough, they hired a real artist to do his own rendition on canvas—again to solicit donations. The process gained speed and by the time of the great plague of 1656, a small chapel had been founded and then a church—on the site of the original Pappacoda building and dedicated to Our Lady of Succour. In an age in which such concrete manifestations of faith were held to be protection from earthquakes, eruptions of Vesuvius and pestilence, not only churches arose, but also the three so-called “plague columns” —or votive spires—of Naples. See (1) (2).
The church is in the design of a Greek cross—that is, a central nave with a transept of equal length as the nave; it has a central dome. A partial inventory of the art works contained in the church includes:
The restoration of Santa Maria
dell’Aiuto has been spectacularly successful.
There was a convent on the site in 1519, quite early in the period of the Spanish vice-realm in Naples. The unusual name, Sapienza (knowledge) derives from what was on the property before that: a shelter for poor students, sponsored by Oliviero Carafa (1430-1511), from one of the best-known families in medieval and Renaissance Naples. He was an Italian cardinal, the archbishop of Naples, friend of popes (and would-be Pope, himself), diplomat and great intellectual patron of Renaissance arts. (He is, for better or worse, remembered today for his opposition to Michelangelo's use of nude figures in the fresco of The Last Judgement.) The name Sapienza stayed with the premises when the convent was built. The later configuration of S.M. della Sapienza comes from a complete rebuilding done between 1625 and 1670. Some sources claim that the remake was the idea of Francesco Grimaldi (1543-1613), whose work in Naples on the Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro in the cathedral and Santa Maria degli Angeli a Pizzofalcone is well-documented. That is possible, but he died before real work had even begun; thus, the premises took their newer form through the work of two other architects, primarily Giovan Giacomo di Conforto and Orazio Gisolfo. Most sources attribute the facade to Cosimo Fanzago, the greatest Neapolitan architect of the time. The interior was noteworthy for the presence of frescoes by Belisario Corenzio (c. 1558 - 1643) and paintings by Giovanni Ricca, Domenico Gargiulo (aka Micco Spadaro), and Andrea Vaccaro, among others. The paintings have long since been removed from the decaying church for safekeeping.
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