Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews


Portal for
Traditions, Holidays, Customs, etc.

Entries in Naples: Life, Death & Miracles dealing with traditions, holidays, customs, general sociology, the weird and miscellaneous.

Directly below this index are
Miscellaneous Articles #1 & #2 for this portal:
1.The Story of "Sister" Giulia Di Marco  and
2. Saints & Holy Relics in Naples
3. Rothschild in Naples
 What's this? Click image.  

advertising (1) (2) (3) (4)
ads & English
Agnano (lake)-Grotto of the Dog
Air Force Academy
Albanians in southern Italy
Anacapri, letter from-2011
Annunziata, Church
April Fool's Day
Benevento, Witches of
bird symbolism
black market
Blessing of the Animals, the
bonfires of St. Anthony
Brogi, Carlo & photography rights
bull fighting in Naples
busses & bus drivers
Caiazzo (royal pheasant grounds)
Calabria (Notes on)
Castle & the Calendar, the
charity(1)   (2)
chess: pieces & boards
Children of the Mysteries (Procida)
Chinese restaurants
Christmas (1)  (2)  (3)  (4)  (5)  (6)
(7)   (8)   (9)   (10)
Cruise, the
culture, Neapolitan (1)  (2)  (3)  (4)  (5)
Dalbono, Carlo T.
d'Avalos (Palazzo) (Procida)
death, culture of
De Dominici, Bernardo
Demanio di Calvi
driving in Naples
Easter Monday
Euro, the (1)  (2)
Evil Eye
scrolls of Southern Italy
Falciano (Bourbon Hunting site)
food, slow
Fontanelle cemetery
fortune tellers
Francesco di Paola (life)
Fusaro & Hell-Hounds
Gabinetto segreto
Gambrinus & real coffee
Garzya, Giacomo, poetry
Gay Odin
gestures, hand (1)   (2)   (3)
gestures &  A. de Jorio
Gigli of Nola
Goodyear Blimp
graffiti (1)    (2)
haunted houses
health care

Ischia (letter from)
Jews of San Nicandro
JFK in Naples
joining a monastery
Jung, Spielrein & C.G. Carus
Khedive, the (and his villa)
Levico (O Little Town of...)
libraries (community)
Licola (Royal hunting grounds)
Lilius & the Gregorian calendar
Lombroso, Cesare (museum)
marine museums
marine reserves
Massa Lubrense
motorcycles (1)   (2)
Mt. Gelbison & the Sanctuary
names, unusual
names of kings
Naples today
National Library
Nola (the gigli/spires)
Palazzo Penne (legend)
Paradise inhabited by devils
Petrosino, "Joe"
Piana delle Orme (museum)
Piedigrotta Festival
pizza (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)
professions, old-time (1)   (2)  (3) (4) (5)  (6)
Pulcinella (1)    (2)
Rites of May, the
Sacred Relics
Sagra the
Sant'Arcangelo (Bourbon hunting grounds)
scopa (card game)
Seven Madonnas of Campania, the
Shades of Venice & Persia!
Skirts & Figs & Sheela-na-gigs
snob club
spirits (good & evil) (1)   (2)
steet scam
struscio, the
Torcino (Bourbon Hunting Grounds)
trees & the rites of May
UNESCO sites in Campania
Varia of Palmi
Youth Hostel
Valentine's Day
Ventotene island
Villa Livia
Wherefore art thou illiterate?
Wishing Tree, the
Zoo, Naples

Additionally, see these series:

Naples miscellany
Early Miscellania
Everything is related to Naples
This is miscellaneous article #1 in the portal for Traditions and Customs      Dec.21, 2019

This comes from Luciano Mangiafico, frequent contributor to these pages.

A Kinder, Gentler Way to Get to Heaven
Feed the hungry? Clothe the naked? Yes, yes. I do those things but isn't there something a little more ...uh... enjoyable? Something that feels good? Know what I mean? Huh? Do you?

You mean like "carnal charity"? What? Never heard of it? Really. Say, young man, let's take a little walk. There's someone I'd like you to meet!
The Story of Giulia Di Marco
by Luciano Mangiafico

Giulia Di Marco (1575- d. after 1615) claimed to have celestial visions, the gift of prophesy, and she advocated sexual relations in lieu of confession and penance. She was a saint to many noblemen, clergymen, and the poor of Naples. And she died in a Rome dungeon as a penitent heretic.

Take at least some of what they say about Giulia and her "crimes" with a grain of salt since most of that comes from a book by an unknown Theatine monk, Istoria di Suor Giulia Di Marco. The Theatines were her enemies and accusers. Other information comes from the records of the Inquisition; then, a 1959 book by historian Fausto Niccolini, who called Di Marco a shameful charlatan and prostitute; then, a 1998 paper by historian Elisa Novi Chavarria; and there are a few other minor sources. She and her “accomplices” confessed and those records are in the Vatican archives but are of little value since they may have been obtained by torture or by a promise to spare their lives.

The foundling wheel of the Annunziata       
where Giulia abandoned her baby.          
Giulia was born in Sepino, a small town in the Molise region, not too far from Naples. Her father was a farmer and her mother was the daughter of a Turkish slave woman. When Giulia was 12 her father died, and she was given as a servant to a merchant in Campobasso; when he died she moved in with his sister and both moved to Naples. There, she had a child, whom she left in the foundling wheel in the Convent of the Annunziata (image, right). She said later that this traumatic experience was the turning point in her life: she became a Franciscan nun and started claiming religious visions. Those who saw her in the throes of her visions said she wasn't faking.

Giulia was small, swarthy, and illiterate, but she quickly gained a reputation for saintliness. She was popular with the poor and uneducated, yes, but also with aristocrats, Spanish officials, even the Viceroy,* and others, including priests, monks, and nuns.
*[Readers are reminded that Naples --meaning all of southern Italy-- was at the time part
   of Spain and ruled by a viceroy, who represented the King of Spain.]

The Jesuits, recently established in Naples, favored her activities, not so much for her doctrines and activities, but rather to oppose the Theatine order, who considered Giulia a heretic.

They called her “Sister” Giulia. Whatever her purpose, she took a priest and a lawyer as partners. The priest, Aniello Arciero from Gallipoli in Puglia, was smart and persevering (and allegedly Giulia's lover). The lawyer, Giuseppe De Vicariis, was married with a family. He was a true wordsmith who could twist the absurd into the believable.

The trio was very popular and their religious theories convinced many Neapolitans. In his Theory of Spiritual Life, the lawyer, De Vicariis, put into words what Giulia and Arciero were about: sexual acts were a form of meditative prayer and welcomed by God. Jesus commanded us in John 13:14 to “Love one another…”. They turned that into eroticism that then became “carnal charity.” Giulia  adored her body. Her sexual organs became a way of partaking of her own holiness. Making love with sister Giulia was a substitute for prayer and confession and was a direct way to commune with God. She became very popular with young unmarried males, and gained powerful protectors. Giulia then borrowed from her contemporary in Naples, Sister Orsola Benincasa (1551-1618, more below) and started to call herself “mother.” She had a congregation: the women were "daughters" and the men were "sons".

In 1606-07, the Holy Inquisitor in Naples, Dominican inquisitor Deodato Gentile began an investigation into whether Giulia indeed had gifts of clairvoyance and prophecy. He decided that she did not and placed her in a convent in the nearby town of St. Antonio Abate. Her popularity, however, continued to grow, so he sent her to another nunnery in the small town of Cerreto Sannita, about 65 km/40 m  northeast of Naples.

In the meantime Father Arciero, Giulia's counselor was called to Rome to defend himself before the Inquisition and was put in a Roman monastery, forbidden to return to Naples. During her absence, Giulia’s fame as a living saint grew, and she was eventually allowed to return to Naples.

Her popularity grew and she moved about town in a carriage. Her premises were frequented by the higher aristocracy. The “religious practices” moved to more spacious quarters and finally to the Palazzo Orsini Gravina on Via Monteoliveto (image, right). In that large palazzo, visitors to Sister Giulia were split into two groups: the married and older men went to rooms where they were urged to pray, while the younger single men could visit Giulia or one of the other “sisters” and commune with God through "carnal charity."

  Orsola Benincasa (1547-1618)

Because of her unorthodox activities and popularity, Sister Giulia became a major irritant to the other “live” saint then in Naples, Sister Orsola Benincasa (image, left), who spurred Theatine priests of the Church of San Paolo Maggiore to investigate Giulia again. Historian Francesco Maria Maggi's Biography of Sister Orsola Benincasa (1655) says that in 1614 Benincasa and Di Marco met in the convent of Santa Maria della Concezione to size each other up. Benincasa came away convinced that Giulia was diabolical. Benincasa then pressed the Theatines, who subverted four priests and some nuns, all Giulia’s followers, to spy and get the goods on the "saint" and her immoral activities.

Giulia counted on the protection of many of her followers, including bishops, cardinals, noblemen, and even the Spanish Viceroy. The viceroy, however, feared a scandal and threatened to evict the Theatine order from the territories he controlled if they kept harassing Sister Giulia. Giulia had her own spies, however, even in the Inquisition office, and managed to get the active support of the powerful Jesuits. Thus, it all came down to a turf war: Theatines and the Roman Inquisition on one side and Jesuits and the Spanish vice-royal government on the other.
Papal Nuncio Deodato Gentile finally stepped in and told the viceroy that he would handle the situation discretely so that none of the nobility or powerful would be hurt in the prosecution of Giulia and her two friends. The viceroy let Gentile go ahead and Giulia was quietly arrested. 

The lawyer,
De Vicariis, had already been arrested and transferred to Rome to join Father Aniello. Giulia was then smuggled out of Naples and brought to Rome. During their imprisonment, to avoid being burned alive at the stake, the three confessed. Father Aniello was particularly loquacious in the description of his sexual activities with Giulia, even saying that she had had five or six abortions. For his part, lawyer De Vicariis explained that he had truly believed that sexual union with Giulia or her "sisters" was not a sin but a way of receiving virtue and grace from the Holy Spirit, and that he had engaged in these activities thinking spiritual thoughts all the while. The trio renounced their beliefs and were sentenced to life in prison at the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, where they died. (image, left).

To drive the point home, Giulia’s confession was read in the Naples Cathedral, yet most Neapolitans were convinced that she was a saint and had been railroaded by Deodato Gentile, who preferred Sister Orsola Benincasa, whom the Church could control better than they could Sister Giulia.

Whatever the lurid accounts were of sexual exploits clothed in religious garb, those (all males!) who moved the levers of power in the church, must have been alarmed by a woman who claimed to interpret God’s word and who could cut them off from the grace of God. Indeed, she saw herself as a substitute for confession, one of the ways in which the clergy controlled the faithful.

What about her other acolytes, the noblemen, government figures, the cardinals, bishops, and other men and women of the cloth? They renounced their former views quietly and life moved on. All was, if not forgiven, forgotten.

  • Amabile, Luigi. Il Santo Officio Della Inquisizione a Napoli (Volume I). Citta di Castello: Lapi Editore, 1892.
  • Arduino, A. Le Congreghe Sessuali- Inquietante storia di uno scandalo nella Napoli del 1600. Genova: E.C.G., 1984.
  • Celano, Carlo. Le Notizie del Bello dell'Antico e del Curioso della Città di Napoli. Napoli:  Giacomo Raillard (1692).
  • Chavarria, Elisa Novi. "Un’Eretica alla Corte del Conte di Lemos. Il Caso di Suor Giulia de Marco." in Archivio Storico delle Provincie Napoletane. Napoli: Società Napoletana di Storia Patria, 1998.
  • Della Ragione, Achille. Napoletanità- Arte Miti e Riti a Napoli, Volume II.
  • Parrino, Antonio Domenico. Teatro Eroico e Politico dei Governi dei Vicerè. Napoli: Mariano Lombardi Editore, 1875.
  • Romeo, Giovanni. Amori proibiti: I Concubini tra Chiesa e Inquisizione. Bari: La Terza, 200.
  • Sallmann, J. P. in Dizionario Biografico Treccani, vol. 40 (voce Giulia Di Marco), 1991.

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comments added on Dec. 25, 2019
1. from Selene Salvi:
I've just read the story you published about Giulia Di Marco. It was really very interesting. In the 1600s Naples was the capital of the Counter Reformation. There were more churches than houses! Religious orders fought one another to control the territory and the souls of those who lived there. Saints sprouted up everywhere and if there weren't any, you invented them. The miraculous liquefaction of of clotted blood, for example, wasn't just the prerogative of San Gennaro. There was liquid blood all over the place... that's right, it was a time right out of "pulp" fiction (and this is back in the Baroque!)
The cloister of Santa Patrizia is #11 on this map. It is  below the large square,
Piazza Cavour, near the National Museum and important Metro train station.

That's when the legend of Saint Patricia was born, for example, our co-patron saint, a reworking of the legend of the siren Partenope. Even today, on the date dedicated to her (25 August) and every Tuesday (!) the miracle of her blood takes place. Every Tuesday! ? (Why do women, even if they are saints, always have to work harder than men to prove themselves?!)

Getting back to the case of Giulia, whom I truly find very likeable, I imagine these many parishes were
well-frequented. How many noblemen, prelates, and influential persons must have taken part in those carefree meetings? When she was arrested by the Inquisition and interrogated did she name names? And how many of them then gave up their silence and their devotion to their living saint at the same time? We have forgotten her story too quickly. Is that what really happened? As you said in the article, her story was told exclusively by her enemies, and confessions extracted under torture by the Inquisition are worthless. Who knows?... maybe some of us like to believe that there was once a saint who spread a message of "carnal charity"!
2. a response from LM, the author of the original article:

Selene is absolutely right. There were more nuns and monks in Naples than any other Italian city, except Bologna and Lecce, but as far as real estate occupied and controlled in the city by religious institutions, Naples was number 1. And San Gennaro, indeed, was/is not the only one whose blood liquefies in Naples.The blood of St. Stephen, kept in the Convent of Santa Chiara, liquefies on August 3 and December 25; that of St. Alfonso Maria De Liguori, kept in the Church della Redenzione dei Captivi runs liquid on August 2, and the blood of both St. Pantaleone and St. Luigi Gonzaga, found in the Church of Gesù Nuovo on June 21. A chapel in the Convent of San Gregorio Armeno holds two ampules that allegedly contain the blood of St. John the Baptist.  Originally, although the blood came to Naples from France in the 13th century and was kept in one ampule in the chapel of the nunnery of Sant’Arcangelo in Baiano, the miracle occurred for the first time on August 29,1554.

The ampule of St. Patrizia's blood is in the Convent of San Gregorio Armeno (image, left) (not at the original cloister shown on the map, above.) She is the champion: her blood liquefies every Tuesday and on August 25. Single girls looking to find a husband flock to St. Patrizia’s blood miracle every Tuesday, hoping to get their own Prince Charming. She is also right about the number of well-known “clients” De Marco and her friendly sisters had. While doing the research I saw a very long list with names and titles from the transcripts of the interrogation and trial before the Inquisition. No wonder the viceroy and many others were worried and wished the affair to be handled very discretely.
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This is miscellaneous article #2 in the portal for Traditions and Customs      added Jan.9, 2020

Saints Past, Present and Pending - a remarkable survey

Saints  & Holy  Relics in Naples
Luciano Mangiafico

During the Renaissance and for the next two centuries, Neapolitans were either gullible or maybe just blessed by saints, holy women [see the entry directly above], visions, miracles, and sacred relics. Holy relics were abundant in the city and the kingdom of Naples, particularly after the start of the Counter Reformation (the late mid-1500s). Saintly relics, whole bodies, body parts, and items associated with Christ, the Virgin Mary, and saints, were necessary for churches or other religious institutions. They attracted pilgrims, and pilgrims brought in money, either as alms or by buying candles, religious images and books, statuettes, rosaries, etc. And as Miguel Gotor has noted in his I Beati del Papa. Santità,  Inquisizione e Obbedienza in Età Moderna (2002) [The Pope's Saints: Holiness, Inquisition and Obedience in the Modern Age], the Church used saints, relics, and devotional ceremonies to strengthen its grip on the faithful and to stabilize its own power and often that of civilian authority.
(images): above, left - Silver bust of San Gennaro donated  by Charles II of Anjou in 1305, in the Naples cathedral.
                 above, right - the city's latest addition  to representations of the saint is a 4-meter-high bronze bust in front of the                      Basilica dell' Incoronata del Buon Consiglio. It is the largest such work ever dedicated to the patron saint of                              Naples and is the work of Lello Esposito. It was installed in April of 2011.

The importance of holy relics led to commerce and often to fraud. One example had to do with Florence and a nunnery in the town of Teano, northeast of Naples. In 1352, when the new Cathedral of Florence, then dedicated to St. Reparata, was almost complete, civil authorities were eager to place in it a relic that the cathedral was named for. The Florentines sent a delegation to the Kingdom of Naples to buy the saint’s body, or body parts, from the nuns of the Church of Santa Reparata (image) outside the walls of Teano, where the remains were located. Florentine chronicler Matteo Villani says the nuns were reluctant to make any deals, but finally agreed to sell the Florentines the right arm of the saint if it could be done in secret. The arm was sawn from the body, and the delegation sent word home to be ready with appropriate holy hoopla. Indeed, the Florentine city fathers organized a grand reception and on June 22, 1352 they put the holy arm in the new cathedral. Fast forward to October 1356. The city fathers had hired jewelers to adorn the holy arm with gold, silver, and precious stones, and they discovered that the arm was made of wood and plaster. The Florentines, not wanting to admit that they had been swindled, kept the affair quiet. The funny thing was that since 880 the body of Santa Reparata had not been in the convent in Teano at all. In that year, the bishop, to protect the relic from marauding Arab pirates, moved it to the town Cathedral of San Clemente inside the city walls. The holy remains were not returned to the original church until 1909, 1128 years later! 
image, above:  marble statue of Santa Reparata by
Andrea Pisano (1290 – 1348)
On the premises of the Florence Cathderal

Sacred relics in Neapolitan churches have included, or still include, the blood of St. John the Baptist, St. Patricia, St. Januarius, (San Gennaro, the city’s chief patron), St. Stephan, St. Luigi Gonzaga, St. Alfonzo Maria de Liquori, and St. Pantaleone. Besides blood, the actual bodies of St. Cajetan and St. Andrea Avellino and the remains of countless saints were housed in Neapolitan churches. In all, the city has 52 patron saints and relics of most of them are in its churches.

The official patron of Naples is the Virgin Mary. The Cathedral is named for her, but St. Januarius (San Gennaro), a bishop martyred in 305, is the popularly recognized patron. Other patron saints of the city were named starting in the early 1600's. They include St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Patrizia, St. Dominic, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Nicholas, St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Michael, St John the Baptist, St. Ignace Loyola, St. Louis Gonzaga, St. Lucy, St. Rita, and St. Augustine.

St. Januarius, the main patron, has not always held the top spot. In early 1799 the French took over the kingdom and declared a republic. The saint apparently showed his favor by a liquefaction of his clotted blood three times (the so-called "Miracle of San Gennaro"). Thus, when the king returned to power in July 1799, he replaced Gennaro with St. Anthony of Padua. The people even roughed up the bust of Gennaro, tying a rope around its neck, dragging it through the streets, and throwing it in the harbor! Even Cardinal-Archbishop of Naples, Giuseppe Maria Capece Zurlo, who had presided over Gennaro's blood miracle for the republic, was exiled to the Monastery of Monte Vergine. San Gennaro was reinstated to his rank in 1814.

The Changing of the Guard
editorial note added by JM

As Mr. Mangiafico has noted, Neapolitans got rid of their patron saint, Gennaro, when they found he had performed his blood miracle for the French. They replaced him with St. Anthony of Padua. This painting (right) shows how potent Gennaro was. It is San Gennaro Protecting the City of Naples in the church of the Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini. The artists were Onofrio Palumbo and Didier Barra; date, c. 1630.

There is a shrine to San Gennaro at what people now call the "industrial port" at the old Magdalene Bridge. There is no longer a bridge. It is a much truncated street, via della Maddalena. The ex-bridge is 300 meters east of the old south-east corner of the city wall, a structure that had defensive value well into the early 1800s. The bridge was the logical route into the city by an invading force and thus the obvious place for Neapolitan defenders of the short-lived Neapolitan Republic to make their "last stand" in late 1799 before retreating within the city walls.

The bridge was where the
"San Fedisti", the revenge-bent Army of the Holy Faith, had to attack to restore their Bourbon king to his throne. The shrine (above left) recalls the “miracle of the Magdalene Bridge," the miraculous cessation of the powerful eruption of Vesuvius in December, 1631 when the cardinal of Naples led a procession to the bridge to invoke the intercession of the saint. A shrine was put there after the 1777 eruption; it still stands and shows the saint looking towards Vesuvius, his right arm held out, staying the force of the volcano.
   The Bourbons retook Naples and passed out leaflets (shown right). The whole image is a cross. The Bourbon King and Queen are at the top, and there are gruesome images of the scores they were going to settle. In short, "Listen, you vile, Godless scum! In the name of all that is good and holy (namely us!) we are coming to kill you, and this how we're going to do it."

  It's not at all an amiable calling card! Noteworthy is that they covered both their saints: Gennaro on the left and the newcomer, Anthony of Padua on the right. Both are called "protectors of Naples." Throwing the bust of Gennaro into the harbor came a bit later. These counter-revolutionaries get carried away!

There are several books from the 1500's and 1600's about churches, sacred sites, and holy relics in Naples. The first one was Pietro De Stefano's Descrizione dei Luoghi Sacri della Città di Napoli (Napoli 1549) [Description of the Sacred Sites in the City of Naples]; it was updated in 1595-96 by one of the first Jesuits in Naples, Giovan Francesco Araldo. He wrote that in Naples there were 27 nunneries with more than 3,000 nuns; he listed the bodies of 35 venerables or saints, the heads of 14 of them, and the blood vials of 11 more. He cited body parts of saints and the tools used to martyr them as well as items the saints used during their lifetimes. There are too many to list. Not content with just the city of Naples, Araldo surveyed the entire kingdom of Naples, coming up with the bodies of 399 martyrs, saints, and even seven of Christ’s apostles!

A 1623 book by Cesare d’Eugenio Caracciolo, Napoli Sacra [Sacred Naples], says the Church and Monastery of San Martino (image, right) held 36 holy relics, including a thorn from the crown of thorns worn by Jesus on his way to Calvary, the arm of a baby who died in the Slaughter of the Innocents, wood from the cross of the good thief, a bone and the veil of St. Cecilia, and a hat and the blood of St. Francis of Assisi.

Another 17th century listing of relics in the city’s churches and chapels by Dominican clerics included 367 complete bodies, 54 heads, 28 arms, 18 ribs, teeth, bones, hair of saints, nails from Christ’s cross, one feather from the Archangel Gabriel, eleven thorns from Jesus’ crown, five pieces of the original cross, the Virgin Mary’s breast milk, the crucifix that spoke to St. Thomas Aquinas, and the fat that dripped from the body of St. Lawrence as he was burned alive! There is more information in Carlo Celano's Le Notizie del Bello dell'Antico e del Curioso della Città di Napoli (1692)[Items of the Ancient Beauty and the Odd in the City of Naples], a detailed cultural tourist guide that since 1692 has often been reprinted and updated.

In a chapel in the Cathedral of Naples (image, right), where the blood of San Gennaro is kept, there are relics of 25 other patron saints of Naples. There are other relics in the church of St. Restituta, the original church on the site and now within and part of the Cathedral.

The painting on the left shows angels moving
the body of Saint Restituta from Ischia to Napoli. It is in the church of San Giuseppe a Chiaia. The story of the church, the painting and the odd decision to block the view of the
painting with a crucifix is here.

The clotted blood of St. Januarius is the most famous saintly blood in the city, but has several worthy companions. The blood of St. Stephen, kept in the Covent of Santa Chiara, liquefies on August 3 and December 25; that of St. Alfonso Maria De Liguori, kept in the Church della Redenzione dei Captivi runs liquid on August 2, and the blood of both St. Pantaleone and St. Luigi Gonzaga, found in the Church of Gesù Nuovo, liquefies on June 21.

San Gregorio Armeno is still a convent, retaining its high walls
  and a spectacular inner courtyard characterized by a central
fountain with a sculpture of Christ and the Samaritan,
by Matteo Bottigliero from 1733.

A chapel in the Convent of San Gregorio Armeno (image, right) holds two ampules with the blood of St. John the Baptist. Originally, the blood had come to Naples from France in the 1200's and was kept in one ampule in the chapel of the nunnery of Sant’Arcangelo in Baiano, and the miracle occurred for the first time on August 29, 1554. When that convent was closed, the blood was transferred to two vials; one was given to the Convent of San Gregorio Armeno and one to the Convent of Santa Maria di Donnaromita. Strangely, while the blood in the vial at San Gregorio continued to liquefy yearly, the vial in the other convent stopped. In 1834, after the Convent of Santa Maria di Donnaromita had been suppressed the first vial was transferred to San Gregorio Armeno, where it now performs the miracle but in a limited fashion. Rather than liquefying, it only changes color.

There was a lot of St. John the Baptist's blood in Naples. One vial of it was in the Church of San Giovanni a Carbonara until July 1799; others were in the now demolished Church of St. Efremo Vecchio, in the Church of St. Maria of Jerusalem, and in the Church of San Giovanni a Teduccio on the outskirts of Naples. Other samples were also held in private chapels. San Gregorio Armeno also holds the blood of St. Patrizia, a champion in liquefaction since her miracle occurs every Tuesday and on August 25. She is the patron saint of single women. They flock to the church to pray for a good marriage throughout the year.

The Convent of San Gregorio Armeno also holds a piece of the cross from the Crucifixion, a piece of the tunic worn by Jesus, a nail from the Cross, and a thorn from the crown He wore at Calvary. The convent also holds the cranium of St. Gregorio Armeno, himself, and the chain and the sticks he was tied and beaten with; also, the head and more of St. Stephen’s blood, the head of St. Leo the Great, the head of St. Blaize, the blood and one arm of St. Pantaleone, St. Lawrence’s arm, and the body and blood of St. Patrizia.

The Church of Santa Chiara, in Celano’s inventory, held hair and milk of the Virgin Mary, a leg and foot of St. Andrew, St. John the Baptist's finger, and an arm from St. Catherine’s body. Celano claimed his listings were not complete and that he had not listed minor relics! The Church of Gesù Nuovo (image, right -- It is across the square from the church of Santa Chiara) has the body of one of the latest Neapolitan saints, St. Giuseppe Moscato and, as well, the body of St. Ciro, relics of St. Giovanni the Soldier, one arm of St. Francesco De Girolamo, and, in the same chapel as St. Francis, the bones of 70 martyred saints.

Indeed, Naples a city of saints and miracles!

  • 1. Araldo, Giovan Francesco. Relazione di Alcune Chiese et Compagnie di Napoli, 1594-96, edited  by Laura Giuliano. Naples: Frederick II University, 2013.
  • 2. Caracciolo, Cesare d’Eugenio. Napoli Sacra. Napoli: Ottavio Belttrano, 1623.
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                          Rothschild in Naples

There is some confusion about the name and what it means. The correct spelling is R-O-T-H-S-C-H-I-L-D. Speakers of English pronounce it "Rothchild" without the 's', thinking it means "Roth's Child" — Roth, Jewish name —makes sense. No, it doesn't. It's dead wrong. The 's' is archaic German. Modern German is R-O-T. It means 'red'. The name means 'red shield' or 'sign' the 'sign' hanging on the front of Mayer Amschel's banking establishment in the late 1700s in Frankurt, Germany
the guy who lends you money, where the red sign is. Right. There. The family's history started in the 1500s in Frankfurt; the name is derived from the family house, Rothschild, built by Isaak Elchanan Bacharach in Frankfurt in 1567. Really. Child of Roth? Indeed! How veddy clever of the English to invent that  preposterous etymology. How veddy wrong.

Anyway, Mayer did well, to put it mildly. The Rothschild family became the most famous of all European banking dynasties, which for some 200 years exerted great influence on the economic and political history of Europe. During the 19th century, the Rothschild family possessed the largest private fortune in the world. We are concerned with his sons, who by the 1820s, had established their own branch banks in London, Paris, and Vienna, and particulaly with Carl, (1788-1868) who had his turn in Naples in March 1821. In support of King Ferdinand I of Naples (alias Kingdom of the Two Sicilies) the Austrian army entered and occupied Naples. This opened the door for family interests and Carl von Rothschild was sent to Naples to establish a satellite office of the family's German headquarters.

The Rothschild presence in Naples was modest compared to elsewhere in Europe. The family had grand properties in Britain, Vienna, and France. In Naples they had one family home, the Villa Pignatelli (shown) which they bought in 1841. By that time, things were moving very quickly in Europe. The great social upheavals of 1848 were about to explode; the Kingdom of Naples was about to be overrun by the forces of Giuseppe Garibaldi and Italian unity. Early run-ups to World War I  were looming.The great balance of power among European nations engineered by Metternich after the Napoleonic wars was crumbling. The great financial dynasty was having to choose sides, something they never envisioned. When Garibaldi got to Naples in 1860, Adolf von Rothschild fled with king Francis II to Gaeta. The brother banks in London, Paris and Vienna, however, saw the handwriting on the wall, writ extra large
Naples is through. The Rothschild branch, after 42 years of activity closed in 1863.

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