Jesus Church in Naples: art and mystery

The magnificent New Jesus Church – one of the most important ones in in Naples – is not only a Baroque masterpiece that fascinated travelers and scholars for centuries, and not only a place where the Neapolitans express their most genuine faith. Adding to all this, it is much more a music composition!

Its renaissance façade has a particular geometrical adornment made of ashlars in diamond ends shape, in black lava stone. It has got a special fascination, coming out of the harmonic lights and shadows effect, that gives a sensation of stateliness to the façade. The white marble embellishments of the baroque portals add once more charm through the black and white, as well as through the stylish contrast.

The façade originally belonged to a private palace of a noble family, the Sanseverino, who had their house built in 1470 by architect Novello da Lucano. It was Renaissance time, and Novello was not only an architect, but also a composer of Gregorian music. In 1547 the Sanseverinos supported a popular opposition to the Spanish kings who wanted to introduce Inquisition in Naples. The aim to avoid this was reached, but in consequence of this rebellion act, the Spanish confiscated all the goods belonging to the Sanseverinos, and later sold this palace to the Jesuits. The monks decided to keep the façade, while in the back they built a church (which is absolutely a visit worth!)

Some strange signs sculpted and visible on each single ashlar, gave long birth to different interpretations. They told about alchemic signs engraved by the stone-cutters; or that they were supposed to ward off the devil eye. Only a few years ago a Neapolitan historian discovered together with two Hungarian friends, a music composer and a Jesuit monk, the real meaning of the unusual signs. They are Aramaic letters (Aramaic was Jesus’ language) and in the meantime notes. By reading them from the right to the left and from down towards up, a music can be played. It is a typical renaissance music, that you can hear played with organ (instead of plectrum instruments) at the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIXlV-flP1M

This façade summarizes the typical characteristic of Naples’ charm: art and mystery are marvelously mixed at each corner of the town!

Are you interested in a guided tour with me? Contact me at napoliamalfitourguide@gmail.com

If you wish to know more about unexpected Naples, see also:

And the Oscar goes to…Naples underground!

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