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  • You are in: Home » musei » THE CHURCH OF ST. JANUARIUS - THE CATHEDRAL (Naples)

THE CHURCH OF ST. JANUARIUS - THE CATHEDRAL (Naples)

THE CHURCH  OF ST. JANUARIUS - THE CATHEDRAL  (Naples)

The grand Cathedral of Naples was begun by Charles I of Anjou in 1272 and it was built on the site of earlier churches, which were themselves preceded by a temple of Neptune. Largely destroyed in 1456 by an earthquake, it is undergone numerous alterations. The neo-Gothic façade is the result of late 19th century cosmetic surgery. Above the wide central nave inside is an ornately decorated panel ceiling.
Of central importance to Naples’s religious (some would say supersticiuos) life is the 17th century baroque Cappella di San Gennaro (St. Januarius; also known as the Cappella del Tesoro or Chapel of the Treasury), to the right after you enter the duomo. The chapel houses the head of the saint, as well as two phials of his congealed blood, kept behind the opulent high altar. San Gennaro, the city’s patron saint, was martyred at Pozzuoli, near Naples, in 305 AD and tradition holds that two phials of his congealed blood liquefied when his body was transferred back to Naples. Three times a year, thousands gather in the duomo to pray for a miracle, namely, that the blood will again liquefy and save Naples from any potential disaster. The saint is said to have saved the city from disaster on numerous occasions, although the miracle failed to occur in 1941 when the Vesuvius erupted.

The next chapel contains an urn with the saint’s bones and various other relics. Below the duomo’s high altar lies the Cappella Carafa, also known as the Crypt of San Gennaro, a Renaissance chapel built to house the saint’s relics.

To the left and rear of the duomo, a passageway leads to what is effectively a separate church, the 10th century Basilica di Santa Restituta. Also much altered over the time, it is now part of the duomo’s so-called archaeological zone.

 
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