In place of linear historicism, this book offers a new approach to architecture by examining the matter of the miracle in relation to baroque architecture through an interrogation of the relationship between architecture and the sacred in the economy of the relic. It considers the Treasury Chapel as the interaction of movement and sanctity in relation to matter and affect, particularly the transport of salvation. The rituals of the Treasury Chapel made visible the new cartographies and choreographies of spiritual authority that fed it and that it espoused and generated. The book focuses on the miracle of San Gennaro, the blood that courses through the chapel and its telling. It focuses on the Renaissance Succorpo chapel below the main altar of Naples Cathedral as the principal precursor to the Treasury Chapel. The book explores how the enclosed aristocratic convent of Santa Patrizia used its relics of St Patricia to vault its enclosure walls and to intervene in the Treasury Chapel, quite beyond its own confines, to secure and extend its own spiritual authority in Naples. It investigates the relationships between silver and salvation activated and opened by the Treasury Chapel's many splendid reliquaries. The book examines the implications of the wider politics of silver from its mining to its sustenance of Spanish monarchy and Spanish rule in Naples to its surfacing in those reliquaries. It addresses the question of how and why silver affords a peculiarly Neapolitan bridge between the brutality of the mines and the saints' whispers in heaven.
The baroque chapel may be seen as presenting singular affects and percepts, freed from organizing and purposive points of view. To many, especially those from the Protestant north, the Treasury Chapel seems 'excessive' or 'over the top'. Without exception, art historians and historians have to date interpreted the Treasury Chapel as a teleological fulfilment of a vow made during the plague of 1527. The very visual richness, of form, colour, materials, and flagrant display of virtuoso technique, of the Treasury Chapel of San Gennaro is productive in terms other than conveying a message from ecclesiastical authority to worshipper. The Eletti hoped to propitiate San Gennaro and persuade him to safeguard the already devastated city of Naples from even worse disasters. This chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.
The miraculous liquefaction of the blood of San Gennaro is at the heart of the Treasury Chapel. This chapter examines Gennaro's blood as site of potentiality and part of processes of transformation and their exploration. It relishes the bloodiness of the miracle at the heart of the Treasury Chapel, the liquefying of San Gennaro's blood, in order to see chapel and blood in a relation of analogical material metaphor. The chapter opens an extended discussion pursued through this book of the relationship between materiality, holiness, and the production of place. It posits the bloody miracle as crucial to an interrogation of those relationships. Gennaro operated miracles principally on behalf of the city of Naples, but by no means exclusively for it. Gennaro's liquefaction, though awaited, even expected, was never guaranteed and could not be taken for granted.
This chapter examines the material work of bronze in the chapel in that regard. It considers metals, particularly bronze, as more than mere matter or inert material, but as part of an assemblage, opening to renewed potential, thereby permitting the architecture of metals to be more than enactment of ideals, ideas, 'function', technique, or virtuosity. The chapter proposes that Cosimo Fanzago's great bronze gates are best understood as material metaphor for San Gennaro's miraculously liquefying blood, and that this necessarily entails his blood's protection against Vesuvius, also a portentous liquefaction. The extraordinary bronze gates of the chapel are interpreted in relation to the transformation of matter in heat and through the prodigy. The half-figures of Gennaro on the gate bind the saint's sacrifice to the prophylactic bronze in a formidable undertaking against the depradation of the volcano.
This chapter explores what it was to witness the miraculous liquefaction. It asks how witnesses were made and reformed; and what of witness withheld? Jusepe de Ribera's superb altarpiece in San Gennaro's Treasury Chapel explores what it is to witness a miracle. Gennaro's miracle was the sight of the community's presence to itself. Miraculous and liberatory, the blood was also accusatory. The chapter examines these miraculous effects to argue that the affective miracle worked to reforge the citizen body. In its transformation, Gennaro's miracle bore witness to the martyr and witnessed the martyr's witness in favour of Naples; while to witness it was to be changed. Gennaro's blood worked causally and analogically for emotional and spiritual conversion, from false beliefs in heretics, and from sin to contrition among Catholics. The miracle, or lack of it, informed that civic and urban mass that was known as Naples.
This chapter departs from architectural history's habitual concern with 'completion', 'use', or 'function', to veer from assumptions that architecture either represents something preceding it or that it 'fills' space which precedes it. It emphasizes the work of architecture as process and production, and in particular, the production of saintly protection as ongoing, unfinished. The chapter interrogates the Treasury Chapel both as locus for patronal saints' relics and as productive of yet more protector saints. Linking worshippers, powerful patrons, and city institutions, protector saints and God, the chapel was part of a markedly city-focused machinic economy. The chapter provides a discussion of the nature of patronal or protector saints, with particular regard to place and locality, before turning to the formidable, indeed, unsurpassed, generation of protector saints in Naples during the long Catholic Reformation. Protector saints were advocates and were charged with pleading their appellants' cases before the heavenly court.
This chapter argues for a new form of patronage by the Seggi working together for specific institutional ends. It explores the chapel's implication of the Seggi in its orchestration and production of civic holiness, which was partly an aristocratization of spirituality and partly a re-energization of a dialogue with the divine in urban terms. The extraordinary over-life-size sculpture of Cardinal Oliviero Carafa kneeling in prayer dominates the interior of the chapel. Cardinal Oliviero's chapel, known as the Succorpo, unequivocally announced the Carafa clan's acquisition of Gennaro's relics and staged its audacious spiritual, cultural, and political claim to be his rightful custodians and heirs. It was the Deputazione del Tesoro di San Gennaro, or Deputation of the Treasury of San Gennaro, that linked the Seggi to the Treasury Chapel, and thus the sacred to the secular, the chapel to the city.
This chapter departs from the treatment of the chapel in terms of stasis, hierarchy, and separation to approach it through the niches in terms of a moving of grace, grace through movement, and the wall as fold. The simplicity of the Treasury Chapel's niches both references the loculi of the catacombs and opens the way to a continuous circulation, institutional participation, and sharing of the saints' body parts. Niche, tabernacle, aedicule, and shrine are elements that have long been bound together by association with sheltering, housing, enshrining, and framing the holy, both nomadically and permanently under canvas or in stone. The niches and the mobility of the reliquaries work to dissolve the stasis of the mere building, always implying and producing movement, hovering, transience, and nomadism: a fierce rebellion against petrification.
The reliquary saints of the Treasury Chapel were nomadic, at home in several places, never permanently fixed, and often on the move. They made possible its operation at the cutting edge of processes of aggrandizement and influence, through which the Treasury Chapel seemed to be centre stage, and of service and homage, pulling it into the orbit of institutions and forces beyond. This chapter is a mapping of those intersecting forces. A swarming of relics glorified San Gennaro, the Treasury Chapel, and the deputies. The Guglia is a device which records and organizes the city's encounters with San Gennaro to re-order the city accordingly, thereby developing a new choreography and a new sancto-geography. A complex choreography and cartography of sanctity saw the export of St Thomas Aquinas on 7 March to San Domenico Maggiore and St Patricia to Santa Patrizia on 26 August.