Worthy of praise: Naples church contains wondrous art, and a saint
The Church of Gesu Nuovo’s austere facade, with its dark, diamond-shaped bricks, conceals an interior adorned with frescoes, ornate sculptures, vaulted ceilings and a shrine to a modern saint.
Originally built in 1470 as a royal palace for the Prince of Salerno, the church is in Gesu Nuovo Square near the Spire of the Immaculate Virgin, just outside the historic district. It is a semi-hidden treasure that’s well worth the extra effort to find.
The church was finished around 1600, and most of its art was created during the ensuing three centuries.
Religious frescoes abound. On the church’s front wall is “The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple,” a Baroque masterpiece painted by Francesco Solimena in 1725.
On the four pillars that support the ceiling dome are frescoes of the four evangelists by Giovanni Lanfranco. Inside the dome is the fresco “Life of the Virgin.” The intricate detail of these murals and others in the church is astounding.
The main altar is surrounded by three bronze bas-reliefs. Above the altar are eight busts of saints who revered the Holy Eucharist.
Gesu Nuovo features seven chapels. One is the Chapel of the Visitation, which has an altar with a bronze urn containing the remains of St. Giuseppe Moscati, a Naples doctor and biochemistry professor who died in 1927 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1987.
A bronze statue of Moscati, the first modern doctor to be sainted, stands next to the altar. His canonization miracle involved a young ironworker afflicted with leukemia. The worker’s mother dreamed of a man in a white coat, whom she identified as Moscati in a photo. Her son’s disease went into remission shortly afterward.
Many people make a pilgrimage to Moscati’s altar. Some claim to have been healed of an ailment after their visit, while others say they were healed when Moscati’s spirit came to them in a dream or vision. On the chapel’s walls are hundreds of testimonials mounted on red plaques with silver castings that represent the body parts he healed.
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Location: Address: Piazza del Gesu Nuovo 2, Naples, Italy. Street parking and a nearby parking garage are available.Times: 7 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-8 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday; 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday through SaturdayCosts: FreeFood: There are many restaurants nearby.Information: Phone: +39 081 551 8613