via S. Gregorio Armeno
The church/monastery of San Gregorio Armeno is in the heart of the historic center of Naples and has given its name to the street on which it is situated. In common parlance, that street is referred to as the street of the figurari, in reference to those who craft the popular figures and sets used in the typical Neapolitan Christmas manger scene, the presepe. The street is marked by the tower of the church belfry that actually spans the street, itself (see photo). It is from the 1700s and was built onto an earlier walkway above the street.
The church was
founded shortly after the iconoclast decrees of the
eighth century caused a number of religious orders to
flee the Byzantine empire and seek refuge elsewhere.
Those dedicated to Gregory, bishop of Armenia
(257-332), founded their place of worship in Naples on
the site of an older Roman temple of Ceres. In
1025 it was joined with two other adjacent chapels into
a single complex as a Benedictine monastic order. [For a
separate item on early Christian churches in Naples, click here.]
The monastery still functions as such, retaining its high walls and maintaining a spectacular inner courtyard characterized by a central fountain with a sculpture of Christ and the Samaritan by Matteo Bottigliero from 1733.
The courtyard of S. Gregorio Armeno
update: April 2015:A pink tufa monument pillar called a stele, 2.70 meters high and weighing 1500 kg, has been installed on the premises of the church. It is a faithful copy of a 1564 Armenian monument and is a gift from the people of Armenia to the Neapolitan chuch where the mortal remains of the Armenian saint, for whom the church is named, are kept. Armenia has also provided for a partial restoration of the church premises. The gift comes on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the genocide against the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.