The Treasure of San Gennaro: curiosities and anecdotes that not everybody knows - YouRelais Pergolesi


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The Treasure of San Gennaro: curiosities and anecdotes that not everybody knows

Telling about the Treasure of San Gennaro means first of all revealing an extraordinary story, set in Naples in 1527 during the Bourbon domination and in a time of deep crisis for the city, devastated by war, plague and earthquakes. The desperation led the Neapolitans to make a real pact with their beloved Patron: “San Gennaro, save our city and we will build you the most beautiful church”. And a serious pact where it is stipulated if not in front of a notary? And so it was. It was the “Elected of the people”, that is, the representatives of the Sedili (districts) of Naples, 5 noblemen and one popular, who signed the pact; they started work on the construction of the church and founded “La Deputazione”, the governing body of the Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro with the task of preserving the relics of the Saint and the gifts contained in the Chapel, and whose descendants, still today, perform this mission. And it is still today that the Treasure of San Gennaro, with its history and its curiosities, fascinates tourists from all over the world. But before discovering them, one question must be asked: was the pact respected by the Saint? Of course, yes. The epidemics ceased, the land calmed down and Naples gradually returned to its former glory!

Curiosities about the treasure of San Gennaro

It seems almost natural to think that the Treasure of a Saint belongs to the Vatican, but it is not . The pact, in fact, was made between the Neapolitan people and San Gennaro and only the people belong to it! Moreover, not everyone knows that the President of the Deputation, an organ still alive today, is traditionally the first citizen of the city, that is, the mayor. This is why on the day of the “miracle of San Gennaro”, when his blood melts in the ampoule, the mayor must be strictly present.

It will be surprising, then, to know that nobles and powerful people from all over Europe including Napoleon Bonaparte, Maria Theresa of Austria, Murat, Ferdinand II have contributed with their gifts to the priceless Treasure of San Gennaro. Everyone wanted to enter the graces of the saint and, indeed, it is said that those who came to visit Naples and, skeptical, had brought the saint gifts little “sumptuous”, would have made an unlucky end. But the treasure does not only include noble gifts: on the priceless necklace that adorns his bust, for example, set at the top there are two pearl earrings of modest commercial value. They belonged to a commoner woman who, to ask for a grace from her patron saint, stripped herself of her only precious possessions: the saint listened to her and her gift was accepted.

Understanding the beauty and magnificence of the Treasure of San Gennaro is perhaps only possible if you see it up close. More than 21,000 works, jewels, fabrics and precious items of inestimable value contribute to creating the richest Treasure in the world, even richer than the Treasure of the Crown of England. And you? Did you know?

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