The Church of Gesù Nuovo - Naples
The Church of Gesù Nuovo (New Church of Jesus) is without doubt the most important Church built by Jesuits in Naples.
It is called "Nuovo" (New), and this refers to the fact that, in 1568 the Jesuits had already constructed a Church of Jesus.
That church now belongs to the diocese and is used by the University of Naples.
The construction of the new church began in 1584 on the area of Renaissance "Palazzo Sanseverino" (Sanseverino Palace), and it still retains the splendid facade with its "diamond point bugnato" finish.
Designed by Jesuit Giuseppe Valeriano (1542-1596), and completed in 1601, it was transformed by Cosimo Fanzago according to the canons of Baroque architecture.
It was dedicated to the name of Jesus and Immaculate Conception of Mary, as is written in the scroll of the founding stone, under the central pilaster.
Built in 1470 by Novello da San Lucano, the magnificent diamond point bugnato facade is the only element of the historical noble Palace of the Sanseverino family which remained intact after Valeriano's restoration project.
The volcanic piperno stones with their bugnato finish are the work of "Master piperno-masons" who were part of powerful and secret society that handed down the art of cutting Campanian stones, from Roman times, under oath by the apprentices.
It is set out on a Geek cross, with three naves or aisles thet correspond to the three entrance doors.
The architectural style is Renaissance while the details are Baroque.
Large pilasters covered with polychrome marble rise from the marble floors up to the cornice.
The altars and balusters are inlaid with marble. There are eleven chapels.
THE CENTRAL NAVE
Behind the facade, there is a large fresco representing "The Expulsion of Eliodoro from the Temple of Jerusalem", a masterpiece by Francesco Solimena (1657-1747), inspired by the biblical episode narrated in Book II of Maccabei.
The frescoes of the vaulted ceiling, in the first half of the nave between the door and dome, are by Belisario Corenzio (1560-1630) and Paolo De Matteis ( 1662-1728), with biblical scenes and stories of the Saints.
Above the four pilasters that support the dome are the frescoes of the "Four Evangelists" by Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647).
The present dome is not the one that was originally designed with grandiose solemnity by Paolo Valerinao, because it collapsed in the earthquake of 1688.
In the second half of the vaulted ceiling, up to the apse, there are frescoes by Massimo Stanzione (1585-1656) which represent scenes from the life of Virgin Mary.
It was originally designed by Cosimo Fanzago and reviewed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680).
It has six great columns, at the centre of which there is a large statue of the "Immaculate Virgin", placed on a large block of marble and help up by a group of angels.
The statue is the work of Antonio Busciolano (1823-1871) and the lateral statues of the apostles Peter and Paul are by the same sculptor.
THE MAIN ALTAR
It is the fruit of the work of various Neapolitan artists, inspired by P. Giuseppe Grossi and was erected in 1857.
It cost a great deal of money in those days, since it was made of rare marbles, gilded bronzes and precious gems.
Three bas-reliefs in bronze rise above the black marble base: to the left there is the "Supper of Emmaus" (by Salvatore Irdi), to the right there is the "Promise of the Eucharist to Cafarnao", and at the centre is a reproduction of "Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper".
These last two bas-reliefs are the work of Gennaro Calì.
Above these, together with didactic stories and symbols regarding the mystery of the Eucharist, emerging from shell-shaped medallions, are the busts of eight Saints that are particularly associated with the glorification of the Eucharist: from left to right we have St. Juliana of Liege, St. Stanislaus Ostka, the blesses Lanfranc of Canterbury, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis Borgia and St. Gaetano Thiene.
The medallions are the work of Gennaro Calì, with the exception of the third and the fourth busts which were made by Costantino Labarbera.
Above the Tabernacle, which is made mainly of malachite, is the inscription that expresses the concept of the whole Altar: "Deus absconditus heic" ("God is hidden here").
In the walls on each side of the Main Altar, there are two small choirs of red marble, on marble portals, and two chancels with their large 17th century organs.
The organ on the right is from 1650, is the work of Pompeo di Franco, and was restored in 1986 by Gustavo Zanin.
It has 52 registers and 2,523 pipes.
The organ on the left, by Vincenzo Miraglia, predates 1646 and is no longer working.
THE RIGHT NAVE
It has five chapels: first there is the Chapel of S. Carlo Borromeo (1538-1584).
The altarpiece representing tha Saint is by Giovanni Bernardino Azzolino (1560-1610).
Then comes the Chapel of Visitation.
The altarpiece of this chapel is the last work by Massimo Stanzione (1585-1656), and was completed by one of his disciples.
Under the altar, there is a bronze urn containing the mortal remains of St. Joseph Moscati (1880-1927) canonized on the 25th October 1987 by John Paul II.
The Saint was a Biochemistry professor at the University of Naples, and head physician at the Hospital of the Incurables.
The activities of the Saint are illustrated by the triptych sculpted on the urn by Amedeo Garufi, who was born in Palermo in 1918.
The left hand panel represents the Professor among his pipils, the central panel shows him illuminated by the Eucharist and the right hand one shows him as a Doctor, consoling the sick and suffering of the Hospital of the Incurables.
The bronze statue of the Saint, to the left, by Pier Luigi Sopelsa, was placed there in 1990.
In the Moscati rooms, whose access to the left of the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier, there is a display of mementos of the Saint, and a series of photographs illustrating the various stages of his wife and also of moments relating to when he was Beatified and later Canonised.
Following on, at the centre of the nave, there is the Chapel of S. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), the Jesuit considered to be the greatest missionary of the modern era, proclaimed "Patron Saint of Missions", together with St. Therese of Lisieux.
Francis Xavier preached Christianity in India, in the Malaysian archipelago and in Japan.
The altapieces, which represents the saint as experiences a vision of the Madonna is attributed to John Bernardino Azzolino (1560-1610).
the three canvasses with episodes of the life of the Saint, are by Luca Giordano (1632-1705), while the frescoes on the vaulted ceiling, with other episodes from the life of St. Francis Xavier, are by Balisario Corenzio (1560-1630) and Paolo De Matteis (1662-1728).
in the Chapel of St. Francis Borgia (1510-1572), the third General of the Company of Jesus, the painting represents the Saint kneeling in prayer in front of the holy Sacrament, and is attributed to Sebastiano Conca (1679-1764).
the final Chapel of the right nave is the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
the frescoes on the side walls are by Balisario Corenzio (1560-1630).
the painting that represents "Holy Trinity with Groups of Saints" is now placed on one side of the Chapel of St. Ignatius, and was painted by Guercino (1591-1666).
THE LEFT NAVE
Five chapels also open onto this nave.
The first is the Chapel of the Martyr Saints.
The altarpieces represents the Blessed Virgin with Child and three Martyr Saints.
It has been attributed to Giovanni Bernardino Azzolino (1560-1610).
The second is the Chapel of the Nativity, with its large painting by Girolamo Imparato (1550-1612) above the altar.
At the centre of the nave there is the Chapel of St. Ignatius of Loyola (491-1556) founder of the Jesuit Order.
Among the marble sculptures and columns are the statues of David and Jeremiah, both by Cosimo Fanzago (1593-1678).
Higher up, two canvasses represent the history of the Saint and are by Giuseppe Ribera (1588-1652).
The frescoes of the vaulted ceiling, with episodes from the file of St. Ignatius, are by Paolo De Matteis (1662-1728).
Then we move on to the Chapel of the Crucifix.
The Christ on the Cross, with the Blessed Virgin and St. John, was sculpted out of wood by Francesco Mollica, a 17th century Neapolitan woodcarver.
Under the altar there is an urn containing the relics of St. Ciro, a doctor, hermit and martyr from the 3rd century, in the times of the persecutions of Diocletian.
On the right side, in Roman cinerary urn, are the relics of St. John the soldier, a companion of St. Ciro.
At the far end of the left nave there is the Chapel of St. Francis De Geronimo (1642-1716).
The statue of the Jesuit Saint, apostle of Naples in the second half of the 17th century, was sculpted by Francesco Jerace in 1934.
The two imposing lateral Reliquaries, with 70 busts of martyr Saints in gilded wood, are according to recent research, mostly the work of the Neapolitan wood-worker Giovan Battista Gallone.
La Sacristy contains frescoes by Aniello Falcone (1600-1665).
The Lavabo in the back, is in polychrome marble and is the work of Dionisio Lazzari. (Gianmaria Romano)
Naples, Piazza del Gesù Nuovo
How you can get there from the Hotel
From the Piazza Amedeo Station take line 2 on the subway, in the direction of Gianturco, and get off in Piazza Cavour (second stop). From Piazza Cavour enter in Via Santa Maria di Costantinopoli arriving to the crossroad with Via Benedetto Croce; proceed, turning on the right, for about 100 metres.