Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Charterhouse of St. Martin in Naples

For the feast of Saint Bruno, the founder of the Carthusian Order, here are some pictures of one of the most beautiful of the order's monasteries, that of Saint Martin on the Vomero hill above Naples. Founded in 1325 by Charles, Duke of Calabria, the monastery remained under royal patronage through most of its history as an active monastery. (It was suppressed in 1866, and is now a goverment-run museum.) As a result, it is full of some extraordinarily elaborate decorations, especially from the early 17th century, when the Neapolitan Baroque style was first flourishing. An enormous complex grew up around the church in various phases, and any set of photographs will give only a very small idea of the place.

The main altar and nave of the church.
The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception

One of the sections of the large sacristy.

Detailing of the pavement - the Neapolitan Baroque style is especially famous for its highly elaborate floral patterns.

The main choir of the church.
The choir of the conversi, i.e. of the lay members who served the community, who would recite prayers together at various times, but not the whole of the Divine Office, which was of course the responsibility of the full professed. An interesting example of the pastoral wisdom of the order, which provides more elaborate decorations for them than for the main choir.

The grand cloister.

Memento mori

Two Carthusian Saints at one of the corners of the grand cloister. With typical Carthusian humility, neither one is labelled; presumably, the brethren would know them by sight.
Carthusians traditionally do not eat together in a refectory except on Sundays and great feasts. On most days, meals are brought through the cloister on a cart to the cells of the individual monks, and passed to them through the small door on the side of each cell's entrance.

The view of Naples from the monastery; in the background, the city's occasionally troublesome neighbor, Mount Vesuvius.

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