Map of the Cathedral of San Paull

            The Cathedral Church of San Paul was erect on the ancient chapel Sanctu Paulum at Averse and it is situated on the oriental side of the opposite square, in the shape of a funnel, an area of its ancient cemetery and ombelicus of the ancient center. In the architrave of the northern portal of the church the writing indicates the time of the building of the large transept and the domes:

+Princeps Jordan(us) Richardo Principe natus..
quae Pat
(er) incaepit p(rius) haec implenda recaepit.

One more writing is located in the principal door:

Vultu iucundo Roberto dante secundo
Pulcra sit haec extra satis intus et ampla fenetra.

            The church, initiated by Rainulf in 1031, and completed by Robert II in 1127, larger than the Cathedral of Naples and Capua, has undergone re-arrangements and metamorphoses that have altered irreparably the original appearance: part of the segmented dome cladding of the central dome, with the two orders of false arcade, was rebuilt in the XIII sec.; one of the four helicoidal woodworks, that of the right entry pillar; the bell tower, adjacent to the central dome, collapsed, was rebuilt on the right of the façade on an other bell tower in the XV sec.
            The area opposite the big transept and the presbytery was completely remade from 1703 to 1715 for Cardinal Innico Caracciolo's wish, by architect Carlo Beratti, that absorbed both the ancient structure of the nave in the thick rectangular pillars, and, in the presbytery, the closing of the arcs that entered the ambulatory.
            Of the structure of the church the
ambulatory, composed of seven spans with cross rib vaulting, it is the only complete example in Europe of such theme and, perhaps, the most ancient of those that are known; the radial chapels, in origin, were not three but five. Of the two lacking the left one was demolished for the construction of the honour staircase of the seminar, the other one was closed.
The dating of the factory is not distant from St-Martin of Tours in Normandy. The scheme is typically norman since to these have been attributed the church of Notre-Dame of Jumièges (1037-66), the cathedral of Rouen (XII sec.), and perhaps also the Abbatial of Bernay (1017-55), all similar to our San Paolo.
            In 1630 the church began to lose the ancient diagram for the appearance of the Tempietto of Loreto, deliberated by bishop Carafa. The re-arrangements of XVIII sec. gave the actual appearance, between baroque and neoclassic.
           Of the important and notable artistic patrimony of the church, in the right nave, the very fine painting of the
Confraternita of the Gonfalone of Santa Maria degli Angeli, the Virgin and San Bonaventura (1710), of Francesco Solimena.

            It is an authentic masterpiece known to have been a model for more releases, also of the same artist; the beautiful painting of the Adorazione of the Magi by Cornelis Smet follows, unusual interesting composition for the variety of the colouristic contrasts. In the Chapel of the Chapter are, on the walls, the fresco of the Cacciata dal Tempio by Eliodoro, a copy from Raffaello, on the vault, theStorie of the Virgin and prophets, by Francesco Antonio Altobello from Bitonto and, on the altar, a painting of the Madonna con il Bambino, the Saints Pietro and Paolo and bishop Carafa,a possible painting by Michael Regolia (XVII sec.), that reproduces a sight of Aversa with the Cathedral and the new bell tower with the pinnacle in the background.

Deambulatorio (c. 1031-32)

Stipite, Knight with dragon (c.1030)

            In theChapel of the Relics (1637) frescos of the seventeenth century, scrolls and inscriptions are: in the vault Gloria of the Faith, in the lunette God Father and musician angels, while, on the wall on the bottom, the Madonna col Bambino and a ligneous statue of San Paolo of XVII sec. In the varied partitions of the walls, besides the numerous Relics, in 207 shrines, among which a thorn of the crown of Christ hat blooms when the holy Friday falls on March 25th, feast of the Annunziata, the silvery busts of San Sebastiano, St. Joseph with the Child of the seventeenth century and San Paul, di San Francesco of Assisi and Sant'Antonio of Padova, of the eighteenth century are deposed; all named Small Patrons of the city in 1693.
            In the large transept - the small one corresponds to the chapels of the Relics and of the Sacrament - it is set on a classical marble altar with the reliefs of the
Annunciazione, the saints Pietro and Paolo, the Trinità, and a coat of arms of the Lucarelli. It is is one of the finest work madeby Salvatore Caccavello. On the central altar, a large painting with the Martyrdom of San Sebastiano, by Paolo De Majo. Before the restaurations of the eighteenth century at the place of the altar the southern door of the church was. There is, besides, a ligneus group of the nineteenth century, Tobiolo and the Angel Raffaele. On the left side a beautiful painting is found, the Crucifixion and Stephen Saint (1452), by James Andrew Donzelli, an Aversan painter.
            In the presbytery there is the marble throne (1493) that till some years ago was still adorned with two more angels that, with this left, symbolized the three churches on which the chair in Aversa rose; on either side ligneus stalemates and, in the bottom, the altar and the marble cona by Luigi Vanvitelli. On the altar a fine painting, with ample breaks and enveloped images, the Conversion of San Paolo (1642), by Carlo Mercurio. In the vault, a cycle of frescos with episodes of the life of San Paolo by Camillo Guerra (1857-58).

            The walls of the ambulatory in origin were frescos, like some painted pieces still in situ demonstrate; theMadonna on the throne with the Child of the first left span (second half of XV sec.).
            In front the fine
marble portal of the hebdomadaries with a lunette and human protomi (XI sec.) can be admired. This, with some capitals and with the two reliefs of the jambs of the main portal, represents the most eloquent patrimony of the original church. The former relief represents a Cavaliere or, according to some scholars, St. George and the dragon, while the latter, an Elephant, two lions placed side by side with circular garlands. Among these panels a small relief of St. Gerolamo in the desert (XVI sec.) and the large painting attributed to James Farelli on the Conversion of San Paul are. In front, among two radial chapels, there is the imposing gravestone of archbishop Balduino de Balduinis, of the sixteenth century, and, near there, on the opposite wall, that by George Manzolo, of the 1591. Among the monuments there is the central chapel, ampler than the others, where, on the altar, there is the painting of the Transition of the Virgin, attributed to Polidoro da Caravaggio and, on the floor, the grave coverage of canon Paolo Merenda, end of the sisteenth century. On the altars of the other chapels are: a painting on the table of the Dormitio Virginis, by an unknown painter of Aversa, at the beginning of the XVI sec., the fine table of the Meeting of the Saints Pietro and Paul (1577), by Giovan Battista Graziano, a mannerist painter of Aversa, and the triptych with St. Michele Arcangelo, on either side, St. Giovanni Battista and San Giacomo and, in the lunette, the Madonna con il Bambino (1495), by Cristoforo Faffeo. The inscription of this table remembers us that the Associazione dei Calzolai in our city is primeval. On the opposite side of the ambulatory we must consider the repository of Luca Prassicio, a philosopher of Aversa of the fifteenth century; the inferior part of the slab was made to abrade by the theologian Gaetano De Fulgore because the writing darkened the glory of the philosopher, who arrived to refuse the Resurrection of the deads and the end of the world.
            In the opposite part of the big transept on the altar we can find the
Crocifissione (1770). The apsidal basins of the chapels of the big transept, closed during the restaurations of the eighteenth century, are decorated with frescos by Carlo Mercurio; besides in the right one a ligneous statue of San Sebastiano (XVI sec.) is kept.
Cappella Lauretana was erected by Charles Carafa in 1630, under the direction of the architect Giuseppe di Majo of Aversa; this keeps some frescos of a certain interest, the Moltiplicazione dei pani with Jesus and the Apostles, the Buon Samaritano and, up, the Incoronazione of the Virgo with angels and Prophets, attributed to Carlo Mercurio. Among the ex votes there is a ball of gun offered by Giulio II when, in 1517, the pope came out undamaged of the siege of Mirandola and a brick of the Santa Casa, a gift by the bishop of Coimbra, Giovanni Suarez, in 1562 to Pio IV. Besides in the Casa of Maria the remaining part of a beam is, while the two blackened stones come from the fire of Candia. On the altar the Lady with a porcelained Child of the end of the XVII century.
Chapel of the Sacramento preserves the valuable gravestone of cardinal Innico Caracciolo of 1736, made by Paolo Posi of Siena and by Pietro Bracci after the paintings by Phillip Barigioni; in an oval portrait of Caracciolom by Cav. Cristofari after the painting by Antonio David. Beautiful is the arble statue of the Celebrity and mighty is the bronzy lion that surmount the sarcophagus. In front, a cloth of the Adoration of the Magi by Federico Barocci, while on the altar, in the round, Jesus allots the Bread consecrated to the Apostles. In the following chapel, very handsome ligneous Crucifix (XIII sec.) of calatal styles on a cloth of the half of the XVIII century. In the following chapel the Apparizione of the Madonna di Loreto, of 1717, by Nicola Mercurio, the SS. Trinità with San Ranieri by Aniello Rossi and the Episodes of the life of San Ranieri. In the second chapel there are three paintings by Aniello Rossi, the Matrimonio della Vergine and, on each side, the Fuga in Egitto and the Dubbio di San Giuseppe; in the last chapel, the Predica of Santa Caterina di Alessandria and the Matrimonio di Santa Caterina by Paolo De Matthejs and the Martyrdom di Santa Caterina (1589), by Giovan Battista Graziano.
            Between the left and central nave there is the
baptismal Font and, on the lateral pillars, two marble founts (XVII sec.) by Francesco Maggi, a follower of Joseph Sammartino, surmounted, that on the right, by the representation of the Infermo that dives into the waters of the probatic Pool, and on the left, Moses that maker the water gush from the rock.

Ligneous Crucifix (1250)
Reliq.of Sac.Thorn (XVII cen.)
Mad.Conf.(1710), F.Solimena
Sanctuary of Loreto (1630),G.Di M.
Return to page one
Artistic-monumental patrimony