Santa Caterina a Formello

March 19, 2012 / Art & Archaeology
Naples, Campania
santa-caterina-formello1Not far from the Porta Capuana, one of the ancient gates of Naples, stands a church with Renaissance roots. Originally part of a Celestine monastic complex, Santa Caterina a Formello was dedicated to Catherine, virgin martyr of Alexandria. Dominican Fathers took charge of the monastery around 1493; the church was founded in 1510 and completed some 80 years later. Church funds were soon boosted by the sale of medicinal herbs, under the charge of Brother Donato d’Eremita whose fame spread throughout the city.

santa-caterina-formello5Though remodelled in the Baroque period and, bizarrely, used as a wool factory after suppression of the monastery in 1809, the church’s floor plan remains as evidence of its original form and style. It is a simple Latin cross with five chapels on either side of a single nave. Now raise your eyes to see the Counter-Reformation exuberance and beauty of the marble work and frescoes; Luigi Garzi’s paintings from the 1680’s are especially fine.

santa-caterina-formello4Don’t miss the 1718 organ by Neapolitan master Giuseppe de Martino tucked into the marble embellishments. But most of all admire the glorious dome, first of its kind in Naples. The frescoes, by Paolo De Matteis, show the Madonna, Catherine and patron saints of Naples as supplicants to the Trinity on behalf of the city.

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Penny Ewles-Bergeron

by Penny Ewles-Bergeron

Author, artist… celebrating the many good things in Naples.

12 Responses to “Santa Caterina a Formello”

  1. Your invocations on the beauties and treasures of Napoli mean so much to me. Thank you my dear ftiend!

    Reply
  2. I LOVE this church and I especially find it interesting that the church became a wool factory! It’s so in keeping with the Neapolitan tradition of using and re-using everything in craftsmanship ways. Thanks for this!

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  3. Nice-third photo down is magnificent! Curious about the wool story, any info on this at all?

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  4. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Thanks all – another treasure of Naples architecture. There seems to be an abundant supply! Re the ‘lanificio’ or wool factory, I had another dig online and it was wool for military use that was being produced (assume uniforms/blankets etc). A former cloister of the church still bears the word ‘lanificio’ over a doorway. Link to photo on Flickr. http://bit.ly/GBoAdi

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  5. Fiore S. barbato

    Complimenti, un articolo ben documentato e ben illustrato sulla mia cittĂ .

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  6. Pietro Russo

    Iwas born in NAPLES ans remember all
    Thank you
    CIAO

    P.RUSSO

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  7. *Grazie mille,* Penny. I believe that nowadays, parts of the *lanificio* have been taken over by an arts group, and these rooms are used for exhibitions and performances. On the summer solstice, two or three years back, one theater troupe performed a “Midsummer Night’s Dream” that began at midnight and ended at dawn. Afterwards, the audience was served *caffĂ© e cornuto.*

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  8. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Once more thanks everybody for your lovely comments. John Domini – am intrigued by this. What a good use of the space!

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  9. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Thanks John – looks like a lively place! So much happening all over the city that I often miss spots like this.

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