San Domencio Maggiore Church Naples

The San Domenico Maggiore Church (Chiesa di San Domenico Maggiore) stands in the square of the same name in the center of Naples. It was originally the royal church of the house of Anjou and the mother church of the Domenican monastic order.

San Domenico Maggiore Church Naples

Useful information

The address of the Chiesa di San Domenico Maggiore is Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, 8a – 80134 Naples (tel. +39 08145918). Public transportation: Metro: Dante; Bus: 201, 460, 584, C63, N3, N8, R1, R4. Opening hours: 08:30 to 12:00 and 16:00 to 19:00; Sunday: 09:00 to 13:00 and 16:30 to 19:15. Admission is free.

History and Description

The church was built by order of Charles II of Anjou. It was the royal church of the House of Anjou and its construction, begun in 1238, was completed in 1324.

At the time of the Kingdom of Naples it became the mother church of the Domenican Order.

There is not much left of the 14th century Gothic version of the church, as it was reconstructed very often in later years.

In the sacristy of the church are 45 coffins in which princes of Aragon and other aristocrats are buried.

The Chiesa di San Domenico Maggiore has no fewer than 24 side chapels. There used to be a painting by Caravaggio (“Flogging of Christ”, 1607-1608) hanging in the church, but it has been moved to the Capodimonte Museum.

What to see

Cavallini frescoes in San Domenico Maggiore Church Naples
Cavallini frescoes

The Cappella Brancaccio is decorated with magnificent frescoes, still painted in the 14th century, by Pietro Cavallini.

The sacristy is graced by a ceiling fresco by Francesco Solimena (“Triumph of Faith over Heresy by the Domenicans”)

The first bishop of New York, Richard Luke Concanen, is buried in the Chapel of the Crucifix (see more about this chapel below).

The High Altar was created by Cosmino Fanzago (1652).

A Talking Crucifix

The Cappellone del Crocifisso features the Crocifisso tra La Vergine e San Giovanni (“Crucifix between the Virgin and St. John”). This crucifix was once said to contain the words “Bene scripsisti di me, Thoma; quam recipies a me pro tu labore mercedem?” (“You have written well of me, Thomas. What can I give you as a reward for your work?”) addressed to Thomas Aquinas. “Domine, non aliam nisi te” (“Only You, Lord”), was the modest reply.

San Michele Arcangelo a Morfisa Chapel

The chapel of San Michele Arcangelo a Morfisa is located at the end of the right nave. San Michele Arcangelo a Morfisa was a 10th century church incorporated into the San Domenico Maggiore complex as a side chapel. Although one enters the church from Piazza San Domenico Maggiore through this chapel, it is not the main entrance. This also explains why the facade on the side of the square is not so impressive.

The real facade is on the north side of the church in the Vicolo San Domenico. Here is also the entrance to the old monastery, which reopened to the public in 2002 after a long period of restoration.

The beautiful cloister attached to the church is often used for exhibitions. When the church is closed, one can enter here through the Vico San Domenico Maggiore. (Entrance fee: 5 Euro.)

San Domenico Maggiore Church, Naples