A few days ago, we took you to the small hidden treasure inside the Monastery of Santa Chiara: the beautiful majolica cloister. It would have been impossible, however, not to tell you about the monastery itself, indeed more than impossible it would have been wrong; It’s true, we try to show you something different than the Naples that everyone knows but this basilica is so linked to the history of this city and to the heart of its people that we have to dedicate it absolutely a small post.
The monastery has a history of centuries, its birth dates back to 1328, the year in which the construction work started in 1310 on a project by Gagliardo Primary.
Sancha, so devout and so attracted by Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi, was forced to put aside her vocation that she would vote for the cloister, to fulfill her duties as queen and marry Robert.
That church would have been its place, the memory of its vocation and it would have fully reflected the Franciscan princes.
In fact, the monastery was opened for worship only in 1340 and soon became one of the most important churches in Naples.
To embellish its interiors, the wonderful works of artists from all over the Peninsula, like Giotto himself.
If its initial structure was in perfect Gothic style, from 1700 something changed and its forms gradually became more and more Baroque. This happened between 1742 and 1796, when Domenico Antonio Vaccaro followed the restructuring project.
And yet the story of the monastery of Santa Chiara does not end here. The modern era brings with it two wars of which the second is the one that strikes the most all humanity, snatches the dignity and erases the memories.
On August 4, 1943, a bombing of the Allies hit the church of Santa Chiara, causing a disastrous fire. The church will burn for days. The fire will erase many traces of the glorious past of the church and some will reduce them into fragments. Fragments, this remains of the beautiful frescoes by Giotto present in the Church.
“Munastero ‘e Santa Chiara…
tengo ‘o core scuro scuro…
Ma pecché, pecché ogne sera,
penzo a Napule comm’era,
penzo a Napule comm’è?!” f
A deep wound for the city. Not only the collapse of a church, but the collapse of a certainty… How could Naples be without its Santa Chiara?
Fortunately, in 1944, work began on the restoration and reconstruction of the basilica that will be reopened to the public again in 1953, as we see it today. A single central nave and on the presbytery, the tomb of Robert of Angiò. Next to it, the tombs of Mary of Durrës and the firstborn Charles. In front of them, the high altar of unknown author, dating back to 300 and with the wooden crucifix of the fourteenth century.
Placed on the sides, about twenty chapels, monumental tombs of Neapolitan nobles, one of these, dedicated to the hero Salvo D’acquisto.
There is no chapel where there is no detailed explanation of the structure and its history, everyone reads, someone does it out loud.
In general, the Church is not silent, indeed it seems a large sounding board that can also amplify the noise of the footsteps on the floor.
From the outside, comes the sound of a harp, delicate and elegant that almost contrasts with the murky voice of the inner.
Yet all these noises, these voices, this music, seem to be made especially for the monastery; it is so strange, a place that was born for the Poor Clares, to rediscover silence and peace and then becomes a place of the people to rediscover its origins, its history and the beauty of its land every day.