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Getting to know San Domenico Maggiore

San Domenico Maggiore is a Roman church and monastery in the beating heart of Naples. Ancient and impressive, it is one of the main attractions and more captivating places in the downtown of the city.

San Domenico Maggiore Naples

The Church stands just next to the University L’Orientale, one of the most remarkable for learning foreign languages. As its name says, San Domenico Maggiore was founded by the Dominican Order. The history of this place is incredible, among the most curious anecdotes about the complex there is the one about Giordano Bruno. In particular, the philosopher friar and heretic lived there at some point.

san domenico maggiore

credits: ig @maakunsaiken

The church and the convent, both accessible for free, guard some of the finest religious artworks of Europe. In addition to Giordano Bruno, another huge personality who lived there is Tommaso D’Aquino, Italian scholar, theologian, philosopher and academic.

San Tommaso d’Aquino and other interesting facts

Among the things that probably no many know about the monastery there is the one related to the Italian expression “avere voce in capitolo“. This is the Italian way to tell “have a say” in something. The Capitolo is actually one of the areas of the complex. It was used to host discussions in the monastic community, in which only some members had the right to speak and deliberate during the writing of the Chapter (capitolo).

Another historical reminiscence of the complex is the miraculous crucifix that spoke to St. Tommaso D’Aquino. According to the testimony of the sacristan, the crucifix would miraculously have turned to St. Thomas telling him: «Tommaso you have written well of me. What reward do you want? ” The saint, radiated by a ray of light, would have replied: “Nothing but you, Lord“.

Continuing our journey at the discovery of the secrets of San Domenico there is the chapel of Zi’ Andrea. A wooden work known as Madonna di Zi ‘Andrea replaced the original artwork by Caravaggio “The Flagellation of Christ”. It was commissioned by the friar Andrea d’Auria of Sanseverino, so much loved by the other ecclesiastical to the point of being called “Uncle Andrea”. It seems that the friar wanted this artwork to be created for a noblewoman who than rejected the work because “ugly”. According to the legend, once Andrea d’Auria looked at the painting the following day, it immediately seemed to be more beautiful.

That of San Domenico is a story of renewals and changes. Curious to know more? Check our tours of Naples to dig deep into the city’s history!

church san domenico maggiore
credits: @marc_nouss