San Domenico Maggiore
San Domenico Maggiore Review
One of Spaccanapoli's largest churches, this Dominican house of worship was originally constructed by Charles I of Anjou in 1238. Legend has it that a painting of the crucifixion spoke to St. Thomas Aquinas when he was at prayer here. Three centuries later a fire destroyed most of this early structure, and in 1850 a neo-Gothic edifice rose in its place, complete with a nave of awe-inspiring dimensions. In the second chapel on the right (if you enter through the north door) are remnants of the earlier church—14th-century frescoes by Pietro Cavallini, a Roman predecessor of Giotto. Note the depiction of Mary Magdalene dressed in her own hair, and, in front, the crucifixion of Andrew as a devil strangles his judge, the Prefect Aegeas, just below. Along the side are some noted funerary monuments, including those of the Carafa family, whose chapel, to the left of Cosimo Fanzago's 17th-century altar, is a beautiful Renaissance-era set-piece. The San Carlo Borromeo chapel features an excellent Baptism of Christ (1564), by Marco Pino, a Michelangelo protégé. Other interesting works are the unusual Madonna di Latte, in the Cappella di S. Maria Maddalena, and a beautiful Madonna by Agostino Tesauro in the Cappella San Giovanni. A Ribera painting in the San Bartolomeo chapel depicts the saint's martyrdom. Near the back of the church, looking like a giant gold peacock's tail, is the so-called Machine of 40 Hours, a devotional device for displaying the sacrament for the 40 hours between Christ's burial and resurrection.
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