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Santa Chiara in Naples survived Allied bombing to greet visitors in modern day

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 21st, 2011
Catholic Online (

Santa Chiara, one of the largest and most important churches in Naples, Italy was founded in 1310 by Robert the Wise. The church interior was given a Baroque makeover in 1742-57, which was regrettably destroyed by an Allied bomb at the height of World War II in August, 1943. Santa Chiara was rebuilt in 1953 in its original style.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Santa Chiara basilica is part of a large Franciscan complex which also includes beautiful cloisters and a museum.

The church was founded for Robert the Wise's second wife, Queen Sancha, who later became a nun. The basilica and convent at that time were designed in an austere Provencal-Gothic style and was finished in 1328.

The ill-fated Joan I of Anjou, granddaughter of Robert the Wise, was crowned queen in Santa Chiara in 1343 and buried here after her murder in 1382.

Visitors to the church today will note the austere architectural style at the west fašade, which is adorned with a central rose window for decoration. The west porch is original from the early 14th century; it was not damaged by the Allied bomb.

The church's interior is the largest in Naples, and has no side aisles to break up the space. Modern stained glass fills the lancet windows. Ten chapels open on to the nave, all containing notable Gothic monuments.

Among the several notable Angevin tombs in the church, there is the one for Robert the Wise by Florentine artists Giovanni and Pacio Bertini; Charles, Duke of Calabria, the son of Robert the Wise by Tino da Camaino; and Mary of Calabria the youngest daughter of Charles.

Joan I is also buried here, but she was denied a Christian burial for schismatic activities and occupies an unmarked ossuary under the church floor.

The cloister of Santa Chiara is reached through a courtyard on the north side of the church, near the campanile. Dating originally from the 14th century, the large cloister was transformed into an elegant garden by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro in 1742. The beautiful majolica tiles and terracottas date from this period. Surviving from the Middle Ages is the austere friar's refectory, with a fountain in the middle.

The cloister includes a museum (Museo dell'Opera di Santa Chiara), with displays illustrating the history of the convent.


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