The Santa Caterina a Formiello Church is located just outside the Porta Capuana city gate in Naples. Highlights include several tombs of the Spinelli family and a number of 16th to 18th century frescoes.
Santa Caterina a Formiello Church Naples
Address, opening hours and admission price
Address: Piazza E. De Nicola, 49 – 80139 Napoli. Telephone: +39 081444297. Opening hours: From 08.30 to 12.30 3n from 16.30 to 20.00; Sundays and holidays from 09.00 to 13.30. Entrance fee: Free of charge. Metro: Garibaldi (lines 1, 2).
History and description
The Santa Caterina a Formiello Church owes its name to the fact that it was built on the site where another church dedicated to Santa Caterina d’Alessandria used to be. Formiello, on the other hand, derives from the Latin ad formis, “near the pipes, near the canals,” because in those days an aqueduct entered the city here. This Acquedotto della Bolla was replaced in the 18th century by the Acquedotto del Serino.
The 15th century church was expanded in the early 16th century. Completion did not take place until 1593. The architect who began the job in 1510 was Romolo Balsimelli. The dome is the first of its kind in Neapolitan architecture. Balsimelli was a follower of Brunelleschi, who was responsible for the Dome of Florence Cathedral.
In 1806, the Dominican Order was banned by Gioachino Murat. From then on, some rooms of the monastery were used as a military wool factory.
The convent is now an exhibition center dedicated to young Neapolitan artists and cultural events, as well as a recreational and commercial space.
What to see
The current appearance of the church dates from 1713. The floor plan is a Latin cross, with a number of side chapels.
The marble portal, with a statue of the saint, is by Francesco Antonio Picchiatti.
The crypt entrance is in the central part of the church. The crypt contains two female skeletons, holding a rosary. The fresco above the main altar of the crypt depicts the “Madonna of the Rosary.”
Luigi Garzi and Guglielmo Borremans were responsible for the vaults of the transept and choir (1708-9). Borremans was responsible for the “Events in the Life of San Domenico” and the “Glory of San Domenico.”
The various chapels are graced by 16th to 18th century paintings, including “Events from the Life of Catarina of Siena” by Giacomo del Po in the fifth chapel on the left.
The large 18th-century chapels in the transept are meant to glorify the Dominican monastic order.
Inside the presbytery are six late 16th-century tombs of members of the Spinelli di Cariati family. They are located at the foot of the pillars supporting the frescoed dome by Paolo de Matteis. Of the noble families who helped build the church, the Spinelli was the most generous one.
In the square in front of the church is an aedicula with a bust of San Gennaro. It was made between 1706 and 1708 by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro. A hand is missing from the statue. According to tradition, it was once taunted and cursed by a young man, whereupon the hand broke off and fell on his mouth.