The Chapel

Altar and Tabernacle


Inside the High Altar is the most precious treasure: at the back of it in fact there is the strong-box where the ampoules with the blood of St. Januarius are kept. The silver altarpiece lining the front is a unique work, one of the masterpieces of Neapolitan Baroque which portrays the return of the saint’s bones to Naples in January 1497.

In the folds of a theatre set, the story of St. Januarius is mingled with scenes of life, faith and theological messages to create a dynamic whole where its author, Giandomenico Vinaccia, is portrayed not once but twice.

the High Altar

Altare Cappella San Gennaro

He is the small figure on the right who is greeting us as if from a stage, and also the figure with the glasses which were typical of silversmiths.

At the top St. Januarius, surrounded by flying angels, looks down at us. At the centre on horseback, Cardinal Alessando Carafa is carrying a coffer with the bones of St. Januarius’ body, forcibly removed from the monastery of Montevergine. No less important is the scene of St. Januarius protecting Naples from the fury of Vesuvius, as happened on 16 December 1631 when the lava flow came to a halt before the blood and bust of St. Januarius at the gates of Naples, thus saving the town.

Altar frontal


The silver altar frontal is framed by the majestic altar in red porphyry. Designed by Francesco Solimena and completed in 1722, this altar is a kind of curtain for the tabernacle with the silver doors set into the wall at the back and hidden by a red drape. This holds the vials with the blood of St. Januarius, the vials which three times a year are shown to the faithful in expectation of the miracle of the liquefaction. To open the strongbox donated by Charles II King of Spain in 1667, two sets of keys are required. One belongs to the Deputation, the other to the Archbishop of Naples. Both are necessary, otherwise the door does not open. Thus it is the whole town, in its two representations, which opens the Treasure of Naples. 

The tabernacle

The safe opens thanks to a pair of keys in molten and chiseled silver: one belongs to the Deputation, the other to the Archbishop of Naples. Both are necessary, otherwise the door will not open: it is therefore the whole city, in the two representations, that opens the Treasury of Naples.

The Chapel: more information

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A singolar story: a pact with Naples

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The interior

An incredible collection donated by devotees

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The silverware

The largest collection of silverware in the world

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The archive

Over 6000 dossiers and registers, and approximately 320 books

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