Cathedral of Naples

Cathedral of Naples

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Naples Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

, the main church of Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, southern Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, and the seat of the Archbishop of Naples. It is widely known as the Cattedrale di San Gennaro, in honour of Saint Januarius, the city's patron saint, but is actually dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


The present cathedral was commissioned by King Charles I of Anjou. Construction continued during the reign of his successor, Charles II
Charles II of Naples
Charles II, known as "the Lame" was King of Naples, King of Albania, Prince of Salerno, Prince of Achaea and Count of Anjou.-Biography:...

 (1285-1309) and was completed in the early 14th century under Robert of Anjou. It was built on the foundations of two palaeo-Christian basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

s, whose traces can still be clearly seen. Underneath the building excavations have revealed Greek and Roman artifacts.

The Archbishop's Palace adjoins the cathedral.

Interior and artworks

The main attraction of the interior is the Chapel of the Treasure of St. Januarius, with fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es by Domenichino and Giovanni Lanfranco
Giovanni Lanfranco
Giovanni Lanfranco was an Italian painter of the Baroque period.-Biography:Giovanni Gaspare Lanfranco was born in Parma, the third son of Stefano and Cornelia Lanfranchi, and was placed as a page in the household of Count Orazio Scotti...

, altarpieces by Domenichino, Massimo Stanzione
Massimo Stanzione
Massimo Stanzione was an Italian Baroque painter, mainly active in Naples.Massimo Stanzione was an Italian Baroque painter. Born in Naples in 1586, Massimo was greatly influenced by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, but what earned him the nickname of The Neapolitan Guido Reni was his...

 and Jusepe Ribera, the rich high altar by Francesco Solimena
Francesco Solimena
Francesco Solimena was a prolific Italian painter of the Baroque era, one of an established family of painters and draughtsmen.-Biography:Francesco Solimena was born in Canale di Serino, near Avellino....

, the bronze railing by Cosimo Fanzago
Cosimo Fanzago
Cosimo Fanzago was an Italian architect and sculptor, generally considered the greatest such artist of the Baroque period in Naples, Italy.-Biography:...

 and other artworks, including a reliquary by 14th century French masters.

Other artworks include an Assumption by Pietro Perugino
Pietro Perugino
Pietro Perugino , born Pietro Vannucci, was an Italian Renaissance painter of the Umbrian school, who developed some of the qualities that found classic expression in the High Renaissance...

, canvasses by Luca Giordano
Luca Giordano
Luca Giordano was an Italian late Baroque painter and printmaker in etching. Fluent and decorative, he worked successfully in Naples and Rome, Florence and Venice, before spending a decade in Spain....

 and the palaeo-Christian baptistery, with mosaics from the 4th century. The main chapel is a restoration of the 18th century, with a Baroque relief by Pietro Bracci
Pietro Bracci
Pietro Bracci was an Italian sculptor working in the Late Baroque manner.-Biography:He was born in Rome and became a student of Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari and Camillo Rusconi...

. The Minutolo Chapel, mentioned in Boccaccio
Giovanni Boccaccio
Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian author and poet, a friend, student, and correspondent of Petrarch, an important Renaissance humanist and the author of a number of notable works including the Decameron, On Famous Women, and his poetry in the Italian vernacular...

's Decameron, has 14th century frescoes.

The crypt
In architecture, a crypt is a stone chamber or vault beneath the floor of a burial vault possibly containing sarcophagi, coffins or relics....

 is by the Lombard Tommaso Malvito
Tommaso Malvito
Tommaso Malvito was an Italian sculptor.Little is known about his life. He was born in Como in the late 15th century, and was a pupil of the Milanese Pietro di Martino...

. The façade was reworked by Enrico Alvino
Enrico Alvino
Enrico Alvino was an Italian architect and urban designer, particularly active in Naples in the mid-19th century. He was born in Milan, and died in Rome.Among his important works in Naples are:...

 in the late 19th century, but retains the 15th century portal, including some sculptures by Tino da Camaino.

Miracle of the Blood

The church houses a vial of the blood of Saint Januarius which is brought out twice a year, on the first Saturday in May and on 19 September, when the dried blood usually liquefies. If the blood fails to liquefy, then legend has it that disaster will befall Naples.

A recent hypothesis by Garlaschelli, Ramaccini, and Della Sala is that the vial contains a thixotropic
Thixotropy is the property of certain gels or fluids that are thick under normal conditions, but flow over time when shaken, agitated, or otherwise stressed...

A gel is a solid, jelly-like material that can have properties ranging from soft and weak to hard and tough. Gels are defined as a substantially dilute cross-linked system, which exhibits no flow when in the steady-state...

, he also explained on the Blood Miracle of Riddles of the Dead series on National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel, also commercially abbreviated and trademarked as Nat Geo, is a subscription television channel that airs non-fiction television programs produced by the National Geographic Society. Like History and the Discovery Channel, the channel features documentaries with factual...

. In such a substance viscosity increases if left unstirred and decreases if stirred or moved. Researchers have proposed specifically a suspension of hydrated iron oxide
Iron(III) oxide-hydroxide
A number of species are dubbed iron oxide-hydroxide. These chemicals are oxide-hydroxides of iron, and may occur in anhydrous or hydrated forms...

, FeO(OH), which reproduces the color and behavior of the 'blood' in the ampoule. The suspension can be prepared from simple chemicals that would have been easily available locally since antiquity.


  • Saint Januarius
  • Pope Innocent IV
    Pope Innocent IV
    Pope Innocent IV , born Sinibaldo Fieschi, was pope from June 25, 1243 until his death in 1254.-Early life:...

  • Charles I of Naples
  • Saint Restituta

External links