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Basilica di San Paolo Maggiore
Country: ItalyAddress: Piazza San Gaetano, 76, 80123 Napoli Website: Uploaded artworks: 1 Uploaded artist: 1
San Paolo Maggiore is a basilica church in Naples, southern Italy, and the burial place of Gaetano Thiene, known as Saint Cajetan (1480-1457), founder of the Order of Clerics Regular.
The Baroque style church is located on the site of the 1st century temple of the Dioscuri. The front section of the latter, including six columns and triangular tympanum, was visibile until 1688, when it was destroyed by an earthquake. The current church façade includes two columns from the ancient edifice.
The first church dedicated to St. Paul was erected here in the 8th-9th century to celebrate a victory of the Duchy of Naples against the Saracens. This church occupied the area behind the temple's pronaos.
In 1538 the building was obtained by the Theatines. In the early 1580s, general reconstruction of the building began with the erection of the transept and the polygonal apse. This was followed by the nave built by Gian Battista Cavagni. The aisles, designed by Giovan Giacomo di Conforto date from 1625 onwards. As the building was proceeding, it was decorated and embellished, notably by Massimo Stanzione who painted the nave ceiling. On the occasion of the canonization of the Order's founder, St. Cajetan, Dionisio Lazzaro, unsuccessfully connected the façade with the temple's columns with a wall, causing the building to crumble in 1688.
The decoration continued in the 18th century with, among others, Domenico Antonio Vaccaro and Francesco Solimena, who re-used marble elements from the ancient edifice for the new pavement and the pilasters of the nave.
The church was severely damaged by an Allied bombing in 1943, which caused the nearly total destruction of Massimo Stanzione's frescoes.
The interior is on the Latin cross plan. The nave has remains of Stanzione's frescoes depicting Histories of Sts. Paul and Peter. Other frescoes by Solimena can be seen in the sacristy. In the nave there is also a statue of the Guardian Angel (1712) by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro. Notable, especially for their marble decorations, are the Chapels of Firrao di Sant'Agata and the Madonna della Purità, both dating from the 17th centuries. The main altar was sculpted in 1775-1776 to a design by Ferdinando Fuga.
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