Girolamini, Naples

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The 17th-century Chiostro degli Aranci is filled with the orange trees that have given it its informal designation.
The conservative Late Baroque facade designed by Ferdinando Fuga belies its late date of 1780.

The Church and Convent of the Girolamini or Gerolamini is a church and ecclesiastical complex in Naples, Italy. It is located directly across from the Cathedral of Naples on via Duomo. The facade is across the homonymous piazza and street (Via Tribunali) from Santa Maria della Colonna. It is one block west of Via Duomo.


The first cloister, or "chiostro maiolicato" from its embedded maiolica, is on the site of an earlier building, the Palazzo Seripando, which was bought in 1586 with 5500 ducats for the priests of the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri. Archbishop Mario Carafa, had requested disciples from the order, and received the future cardinal Francesco Tarugi.[1]

The Palazzo Seripando was demolished and construction started on the new structure in 1592 on plans by the Florentine architect Giovanni Antonio Dosio. The much larger second cloister, dating from the 17th century, is reached from the first; in it are found the entrances to both the "Quadreria" or art collection, previously housed in the sacristy of the Church, and the magnificent library of the Oratorian Fathers, the Biblioteca Girolamini, now run by the Italian state.[2] Later architects, such as Ferdinando Fuga who rebuilt the façade in 1780, also worked on the building. The facade statues of St Peter or St Paul were made by Giuseppe Sammartino.

The church, completed in 1619, was dedicated to the Nativity of the Madonna and All Saints. It is also the work of Dosio as well as that of Nencioni and is in the style of the Florentine Renaissance: a Latin cross with three naves supported by arcuated colonnades and with lateral chapels.

The Church and the convent gallery contain works by Luca Giordano, José de Ribera, Guido Reni, Francesco Solimena, Sassoferrato, Andrea Sabbatini, Francanzano, Beinaschi, and other artists. The lavish gilt ceiling was badly damaged during aerial bombardment in February 1944, but has been partially restored.

The counterfacade has a Giordano painting of Jesus ejects the moneylenders from the Temple. The lateral doors have frescoes of Heliodorus and the Angel and Oza morto presso l’Arca by Filippo Mazzante. The fist chapel on the right has an altarpiece depicting Ss. Giorgio e Pantaleone by Gaetano Pandolfi of Bologna; the lateral paintings of St Dominic and the Guardian Angel are by Fracanzano, disciple of Ribera; Above is a painting of Ss. Cosma e Damiano by Benasca. The second chapel has a small Madonna della Neve by a follower of Polidoro di Caravaggio, the paintings of God and Sts Anne and Joseph are by Giuseppe Marulli. Francesco di Maria painted St Anne and S. Gioacchino with the Angel. The paintings in the third chapel are by Luca Giordano. The fourth chapel on the right has a painting of St Agnese, by Cristoforo Roncalli (il Pomarancio). Giovanni Battista Vico and his wife, Caterina Destito have funereal plaques in this chapel. The fifth chapel has a St Francis of Assisi by Guido Reni. The frescoes in this cahpel are by Morandi. The canvas of the Virgin and Apostles in the sixth chapel was painted by Paolo de Matteis, while Francesco la Mura painted the lateral canvases.[3]

The church and complex take their name of Girolamini from that which was first applied to the priests of the Oratory and which is derived from the Church of San Girolamo della Carità in Rome, where St Philip Neri first established his religious exercises.


Entered from the right transept, the Sacristy displays a series of painting including a St. Francis in Ecstasy (1622) and Jesus meets St. John the Baptist (1622) by Guido Reni, and a St. Nicholas of Bari saves three children from a vat, San Carlo Borromeo kisses the hand of St Phillip Neri, St. Charles Borromeo and St. Philip Neri by Luca Giordano. The next room has a ceiling fresco depicting the Glory of Philip Neri by Giovan Battista Beinaschi.

Biblioteca Girolamini[edit]

The Biblioteca Girolamini is the library associated with the church since the 16th century. It has contained many thousands of manuscripts and printed volumes.

Looting in 2012[edit]

In December 2013, news reporting[4] was published that there had been systematic looting of the Biblioteca Girolamini. Images showed empty shelves and tables piled with papers. Senior Police investigator, Major Antonio Coppola, was quoted as saying, "Our investigations found that there was a true criminal system in action," and that "A group of people... carried out a devastating, systematic looting of the library." The report stated that Professor Tomaso Montanari CV, an art historian and academic, first alerted the police to what was happening, after having gained access to the library along with a student in early 2012. The Professor said, "One of the library's members of staff took me aside, away from the CCTV cameras, and said: 'Professor, the director (Marino Massimo de Caro) has been looting the library!'"[4] de Caro had been appointed in 2011.

De Caro was arrested soon after investigations began in 2012. Investigations showed that vehicle-loads of books had been removed and sold by the now-convicted criminals, who had waited until after normal working hours, turned off the rudimentary CCTV system, and then proceeded with their looting.[4]

De Caro was convicted along with accomplices in early 2013 and sentenced to seven years gaol, although, due to his cooperation this was commuted to house arrest.[4] Around 80% of the lost volumes had been recovered by late 2013, with the assistance of antiquarian booksellers and collectors, although many valuable artefacts remain unaccounted for.[4]

Gallery of Artworks in Quadreria dei Girolamini[edit]


  1. ^ Guida Sacra della citta di Napoli per Gennaro Aspreno Galante, 1873, page 188.
  2. ^ of Library
  3. ^ Galante, page 189.
  4. ^ a b c d e Naples' Girolamini: The looting of a 16th Century library, Alan Johnston, BBC News, 19 December 2013, accessed 20 December 2013


  • A new guide of Naples, its environs, Procida, Ischia and Capri: Compiled ...By Mariano Vasi, page 286, by Giovanni Battista de Ferrari. 1826 Naples.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°51′07″N 14°15′30″E / 40.851884°N 14.258390°E / 40.851884; 14.258390