Lipsanothecae of the Chapel of Saint Francesco de Geronimo – Naples, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Lipsanothecae of the Chapel of Saint Francesco de Geronimo

Church of Gesù Nuovo

The relics of dozens of martyrs are stored in a single chapel. 

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The church of Gesù Nuovo (New Jesus) is a monumental religious building in Naples. It was built by the Jesuit order between 1584 and 1725, replacing a previous building, and it takes its name from the fact that a church of Jesus already existed in the city.

Gesù Nuovo is considered one of the finest examples of the Neapolitan Baroque style, adorned by numerous beautiful pieces by various famous artists. But among the magnificence and opulence it is easy to miss that the last of the chapels on the left side, known as Chapel of Saint Francesco de Geronimo, which houses 70 relics belonging to different martyrs of the early Christian age.

On the sides of the chapel there are two large wooden lipsanothecae (containers to hold reliquaries), each housing relics of 35 martyrs, represented by busts divided into five rows. The lipsanothecae were made at the end of the 17th century, and while some of the relics were already in the church of Gesù Nuovo, others were donated by other churches, religious orders, and noble families.

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