History of the foundation of the church of Santa Maria di Caravaggio
Walking along via Toledo in the direction of MANN, just past piazza Dante, on the left we meet the church of Santa Maria di Caravaggio. The history of the sanctuary began in 1627, when the Scolopi fathers abandoned the headquarters of the Duchesca to occupy a small church dedicated to the Nativity of Mary, with the intention of founding an institute for the poor. The new name of the church derives from an icon that the religious brought with them: the painting represented the apparition of the Virgin to a young girl in 1472 in the Lombard town (the home of Michelangelo Merisi ...)
The new complex was transformed thanks to the intervention of the architect Giovan Battista Nauclerio: the works ended around the middle of the XVIII century. After the suppression of religious orders in the Napoleonic era, the structure was entrusted to the Barnabite Fathers who still manage it. The convent had the honor of hosting two worthy institutions in the nineteenth century: the Neapolitan Society of History and the Prince of Naples Institute for blind young people, founded by Domenico Martuscelli.
A baroque gem: the church of Santa Maria di Caravaggio
As soon as you cross the threshold of the church, the visitor will immediately find himself caught up in the scenography of the interior, of rare and spectacular beauty! In fact the central plan of the church of Santa Maria di Caravaggio resembles that of the famous Pantheon of Rome and anticipates the solutions of the Bourbon Basilica of San Francesco di Paola in Piazza del Plebiscito.
But what are the actors who tread the scene of the "little stage" of Santa Maria?
Francesco Solimena, for example, in the first chapel on the right, with a splendid painting depicting the Death of St. Joseph. Or Gaetano Gigante, the forefather of the famous Neapolitan family of painters, who in 1806 created the moving altarpiece representing the Nativity of the Virgin.
But the church also offers two attractions of a "purely spiritual character": the body of St. Francis Saverio Bianchi, the Apostle of Naples, transferred from the church of San Giuseppe a Pontecorvo and preserved under the altar of the first chapel on the left; and the characteristic second chapel on the right, "the chapel of St. Mary's", which during the Second World War was the destination of the "pilgrimages" of the Anglo-American soldiers.
How to reach the church of Santa Maria di Caravaggio
The church of Santa Maria di Caravaggio is located in Piazza Dante and is easily accessible by line 1 (Piazza Dante stop) and line 2 (Montesanto stop); and with the Cumana and Circumflegrea lines (Montesanto stop).
The church can be visited at the time of the Holy Mass on weekdays from 10:30 to 18:00 and on holidays from 9:00 to 12:00.