It would be very reductive to describe the beauty of the Sansevero Chapel in a few lines, because it is an amazing representation of the Baroque art in Naples.
Its origins date to a legendary episode, where it is said that a man led to prison asked for a grace to the imagine of Virgin Mary who appeared there, near a stretch of the garden of the Sansevero family. The man got the grace and the sacred image became a pilgrimage destination dispensing many other graces.
Later on also the duke of Torremaggiore, Giovan Francesco di Sangro, seriously ill, asked for a grace to this image of the Virgin Mary in order to get healing: he got the miracle, and for gratitude he raised in the same place, where the image was seen the first time, a little chapel called “Santa Maria della Pietà” or “Pietatella”.
But it was the son of Giovan Francesco, Alessandro di Sangro patriarch of Alessandria, the first one to perform great works of transformation and extension of the chapel at the beginning of the XVII century, modifying the original structure in a votive temple, intended to accommodate the burials of his ancestors and of the future members of the family.
In any case, thanks to the prince Raimondo di Sangro, eclectic and mysterious figure, the Chapel takes its present appearance with the presence of the statues of ten Virtues and the amazing masterpiece of the Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sammartino.
The Chapel houses masterpieces of the other important artists of the XVII century like the works by Queirolo, Corradini, Celebrano and presents a double reading key, the sacral one and the esoteric one. In the cavea below the chapel, you can also admire the Anatomical Machines, which Raimondo created together with his friend, doctor Giuseppe Salerno. Nowadays they are still a mystery, the scientists are still working on them in order to understand exactly the materials used for the realization.