San Lorenzo Maggiore, Naples

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Courtyard of the monastery of San Lorenzo in Naples.
Excavations of a Roman market beneath San Lorenzo Maggiore.

San Lorenzo Maggiore is a church in Naples, Italy. It is located at the precise geographic center of the historic center of the ancient Greek-Roman city, at the intersection of via San Gregorio Armeno and via dei Tribunali. The name "San Lorenzo" may also refer to the new museum now opened on the premises, as well as to the Roman archaeological site beneath the church itself.

The church's origins derive from the presence of the Franciscan order in Naples during the lifetime of St. Francis of Assisi, himself. The site of the present church was to compensate the order for the loss of their earlier church on the grounds where Charles I of Anjou decided to build his new fortress, the Maschio Angioino in the late 13th century.

San Lorenzo actually is a church plus monastery. The new museum takes up the three floors above the courtyard and is given over to the entire history of the area that centers on San Lorenzo, beginning with classical archaeology and progressing to a chart display of historical shipping routes from Naples throughout Magna Grecia and the Roman Empire. The museum provides a detailed account of the local "city hall" that was demolished in order to put up the church in the 13th century and continues up past the Angevin period and into more recent history.

Beneath San Lorenzo, about half of an original Roman market has been excavated.The site has been open since 1992, the result of 25 years of painstaking excavation. The market place is the only large-scale Greek-Roman site excavated in the downtown area.

In this church Boccaccio meet his beloved Fiammetta (1338).


Two of the chapels in the Gothic church are designed in baroque manner. These are the Cacace Chapel and the Chapel of S. Antonio. Both are designed by Cosimo Fanzago, the first in commission of Giovan Camillo Cacace, lawyer and member of the Accademia degli oziosi, the latter in commission of the Carthusian Order. His use of inlaid, richly colored marble contrasts with the Gothic interior.

Cacace Chapel

The Cacace Chapel is dedicated to Mary of the Rosary when it was acquired by the De Caro family in 1571.[1] Giovan Camillo Cacace, nephew of Francesco and Giuseppe De Caro, decided to renovate the chapel in the 1640s.[1] He commissioned Cosimo Fanzago for the realization, but other artists were invited as well.[2] The sculpture was executed by Andrea di Bolgi, a sculptor from Carrara who had worked in the Bernini workshop in the 1630s; for him he created the Sant' Helena statue in the crossing of St. Peter's in Rome. In the Cacace Chapel he did the four sculptures, to the left the whole figure of Giuseppe De Caro, kneeling, with below the bust of his brother, Francesco De Caro. To the right is the praying and kneeling figure of Vittoria De Caro, sister of Giuseppe and Francesco, and mother of the commissioner, Giovan Camillo. His bust is shown below Vittoria.

The cupola of the chapel is frescoed by Niccolò De Simone, while earlier this task was appointed to Massimo Stanzione. It depicts the Trinity and glory of the Virgin, though the fresco is severely damaged and hardly visible nowadays. At the sides are the Friendship between Saint Francis and Saint Domenicus and the Sleep of Innocent XIII Who Sees Francis and Dominic rule over the tumbling Lateran. The four pendants the painter depicted John the Baptist, Saint Joseph, Saint Anne and Saint Joachim.

The altarpiece is painted by Massimo Stanzione and depicts the Our Lady of the Rosary, a subject with rising popularity after the Council of Trent of 1563. His style is reminiscent of Caravaggio, though with brighter use of colour and more attention to physiology.

See also


  1. ^ a b Pacelli, Vincenzo (1986). "La cappella Cacace in San Lorenzo Maggiore: un complesso barocco in una basilica gotica". Ricerche sul '600 napoletano. Naples (5): 171–180.
  2. ^ Filangieri, Roberto (1884). Documenti per la storia, le arti e le industrie delle provincie napoletane raccolti e pubblicati da G. Filangieri. Naples. pp. 225–231.

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