The Treasure, in cultural and artistic terms, has an inestimable value, representing a route through the craft, the taste, the artists over seven centuries of history. It belongs to the Neapolitans, because the works were donated to a son of theirs or rather, to millions of children named Gennaro.
The masterpieces that make up the Treasure of San Gennaro document the extraordinary ability of Neapolitan sculptors and silversmiths who have been able to combine technical knowledge and creativity. Chalices, pyxes, baskets, candlesticks, plates, ostensories with the busts and statues of the Patron Saints and the other items exposed, are the result of a team work by highly qualified masters in their field: sculptors, chasers, welders, mitters collection, as the assemblers of that time were called, have made masterpieces of rare beauty.
Invention, popular devotion, religiosity, spectacle: all this and more includes the exhibition of the Museum of the Treasure of San Gennaro, in a path of masterpieces along seven centuries that today you can see intact thanks to the meritorious work of the Deputation. Many of the exhibits, in fact, have been saved and preserved by the continued sacks and expropriations of that time, managing to come down to us intact, witnesses of an exemplary history of fine craftsmanship that started from the Fourteenth century.
Invention, popular devotion, religiosity, spectacular: all this and more contains the first thematic exhibition in the Museum of Treasury of San Gennaro dedicated to Silver. A path of splendors along seven centuries that today it is possible to admire intact, thanks to the meritorious work of the Deputation. Many of the exhibits, indeed, have been saved and preserved by the continuous sacks and expropriations of the epoch, able to reach down to us intact, witness of an exemplary history of fine craftsmanship, probably unique, starting from the Thirteenth century.
The silverware on show in the Museum of the Treasure of San Gennaro document, precisely, the extraordinary ability of Neapolitan sculptors and silversmiths who were able to reconcile wisdom, technique and creativity. Calyxes, ciboria, baskets, candelabra, dishes, ostensories with the busts and statues of Patron Saints and other exhibits are the result of a team of highly qualified masters in their field. Sculptors, chasers, welders, "ensemble mitter" (as the assemblers of the time were called) created masterpieces of rare beauty.
The silverware represents an important part of the so-called Treasure of San Gennaro, because these old manufactures were mostly for the daily liturgical use and most of the statues were built to guard the relics of the Saints, that were very important in the popular devotion, especially in the XVII century. Several busts were then commissioned by confraternities, churches and monasteries in honor of their Patrons and then entrusted to the custody of the Chapel of Treasure of San Gennaro, from which they came out to be carried in procession on the occasion of the several religious festivals. But the artistic beauty of the busts and statues of Patron Saints, especially those of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries, go beyond the only devotion. Filippo Del Giudice, Carlo Schisano, Giovan Domenico Vinaccia, Lorenzo Vaccaro are just some of all the authors of these works in the exhibit, which represent a pride of art and craft of Naples, but also the witness of worship and devotion to San Gennaro.
The Jewels of Treasure of San Gennaro are masterpieces of a priceless artistic and economic value, result of great skill and art of Neapolitan School's goldsmiths.
The Necklace of San Gennaro, begun in 1679 and donated by the Bourbons, with thirteen large solid gold meshes to which are hung crosses studded with sapphires and emeralds; the gilt silver Mitra, dating back to 1713, with over 3700 rubies, emeralds and brilliants; the Mantle of San Gennaro, covered with precious stones and enamels and brilliants, the golden Calyx, studded with rubies, emeralds and diamonds, produced by Michele Lucrano in 1761; the Pyx (that is a calyx with cover to keep the hosts) in silver gilt, made by the famous goldsmith Domenico Ascione from Torre del Greco who constellated it with cameos and malachite decorations.
These are just some of the extraordinary masterpieces donated to the Patron Saint of Naples and exhibited in the Museum entitled to him.
One of the few archives which has overcome the events of the Second World War, destruction, earthquakes, is that of the Deputation of the Chapel of Treasure of San Gennaro. For a vote of the City in 1527, was built a home worthy of the relics of San Gennaro, held in the "old Treasure" with those of the "holy bishops" of Naples. Therefore, people wanted to testify their special devotion to San Gennaro, not only with the Royal Chapel, but also with a Chapter of Chaplains different from those of the Cathedral, that kept on treating the other relics.
Only in 1646 there was the actual translation of the relics and their delivery to the Chaplains and to their representative, now called Abbott Treasurer. The consequence, in terms of papers, was that the preservation of the documentation, called administrative - namely the practices concerning the construction of the Chapel in all its aspects, the resolution of all problems connected with it, as the choice of architects, painters, musicians - started from 1601, while the documentation relating to the miracle of blood liquefaction and records, where all the ceremonies are wrote down, the visits to the shrine of the sovereign, and so on began from 1646.
According to the laws in force at that time, each noble Seat and the Seat of the People, apart from expressing the Elected and the Members of San Lorenzo Court (we could say mayor and junta in the current language), elected or showed the Deputies for the execution of all the activities of which the City was responsible. However, for the Deputation of the Treasure of San Gennaro there were no deputies temporary appointed, but deputies for the various problems. So we can read in the meetings of the Deputation of the Treasure the names of many nobles that represented the nobility Seats and the names of the representatives of the People.
So in the archives of the Deputation is possible to find, in addition to the "church scriptures", resolutions that concern the laic nature of the management. The cult of San Gennaro can be studied through the forms of piety and religious devotion, as well as the transformations of Neapolitan society can be examined through the events of civil and social history of Naples.
In 1799, after the fall of the Republic of Naples, Ferdinand IV abolished the Seats, removing any political function of representation of the City, including the Seat of the People. The only Deputation that Ferdinand wanted to keep was this of the Chapel of the Treasure. He established that two deputies for each Seat and two of Seat of the People would, in behalf of the City, continue to be interested in its management, as well as the same Seats would continue to express the Chaplains for religious celebrations. To these functions were added another very important responsibility, namely the conservation of the Golden Book of the nobility, with the task to record the births, deaths and marriages of all family members ascribed to the Seats.The media kit of the archive is based on the inventory compiled by Renata Orefice and Jole Mazzoleni in the 1970s and on following and partial computerization made in the1990s. There is a project under construction that will allow the creation of a database that, on a chronological basis, will answer all the questions of scholars. In fact would be possible to integrate the stored documentation with the one still existing in other archives of the city (Historical Archive of Banco di Napoli, Naples State Archives, Archive of Pio Monte della Misericordia, etc.).. In addition to the paper part there is a group of scrolls and other scriptures relating to property made to the Chapel: for example, the scriptures concerned the Abbey of San Biagio are very important.
The Wooden Statues
The Wooden Statues are works of artistic and cultural value made in the eighteenth century by artful carvers belonging to Neapolitan school. They represent Our Lady of Sorrow, Ecce Homo and Risen Christ.
The group of Statues was exhibited, for the last time, in the Chapel of San Gennaro, during the Holy Week of 1775, after which he was relegated to the warehouses in place of the silver ones. Currently the Statues have been restored and displayed again to the public after 240 years.
From the historical documents emerges a curiosity: it is said that one hundred days of indulgence were granted to the devotees for each Ave Maria, recited at the presence of the Sacred statues.