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Naples Cathedral

Naples Cathedral

Naples Cathedral is a Roman Gothic church dedicated to heavenly patron of the city Saint Januarius. It was constructed in the 13th century at the orders of Charles II of Anjou (1285- 1309) on a site of an older Christian church. It was completed only in the early 14th century during reign of Robert of Anjou.

 

 

 

Via Duomo 147

Tel. + 39 081 44 90 97

Open: 8:30am- 1:30pm, 2:30- 8pm

 

 

 

 

Little is known about life of Saint Januarius. It is believed that he was born in the late 3rd century AD into a rich and prominent Roman family of Samnites descent, nation that ruled over South Italy for centuries. At 15 he became a priest and at 20 he became a Bishop of Naples. He ordination was surrounded by constant danger of death. Roman Emperor Diocletian started his persecution of the Christians so Naples was really short of priests. Unfortunately Saint Januarius became another victim of Roman religions "tolerance". During his visits of fellow Christians in prison (Juliana of Nicomedia, Saint Sossius among others) he was accused of being a Christian or a Christian sympathizer. Saint Januarius didn't refute these allegations. Some sources claim that he was subsequently thrown to wild lions at the Flavian Amphitheater at Pozzuoli (just west of Naples, north shore of Bay of Naples). It is unclear whether lions had lunch prior to that or maybe they liked young bishop, but they refused to eat him. Roman governor finally ordered his decapitation at the Solfatara crater near Pozzuoli. Body of Januarius was brought to Naples and part of his blood was preserved inside the Naples Cathedral.

Oldest part of the cathedral is a chapel of Saint Restituta. It is all that remains from a small church that date back to the 4th century AD, just after Christianity became one of the religions of the Roman Empire. Its interior is covered by frescoes of Luke Giordano, while the baptistery date back to the 5th century. Naples Cathedral itself was reconstructed several times. The main facade of the building, for example, was added in 1877- 1905 under supervision of an architect E. Alvino. The interior of the cathedral is supported by graceful Gothic arcades. Paintings were made by artists Lanfranco and Domenichino.

The main attraction of the Naples Cathedral and one of the greatest wonders of the Roman Catholic Church is blood of Saint Januarius. It is said that dry blood liquefies in a sealed flask in the hands of the priest. It happens twice a year: on the first Saturday of May and 19th September (Saint Januarius' feast day). It is believed that once the blood of Saint Januarius fails to turn into liquid a disaster will befall Naples and its residents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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