The large Church of Santa Maria di Costantinopoli at the Museum in Naples is one of the many beautiful and monumental Neapolitan churches that we sometimes hastily meet on our way.
Yet in this large church, a stone's throw from MANN, the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, and on the busy road of the same name, there is an image that makes it unique and extraordinary among all the churches of the city.
In the Church is in fact preserved the prodigious image of the Madonna of Constantinople which, as the inscription on the external facade of the church says "MATRI DEI OB URBEM AC REGNUM A PESTE SERVATUM" has always freed Naples and the Kingdom of Naples from the plagues.
The origin of the Church of Santa Maria di Costantinopoli
Legend has it that between 1527-1528, the period in which the city was threatened by the plague, the Virgin of Constantinople appeared to an elderly woman who walked tiredly through the streets of the area and asked her to build a temple where she would find her image painted on a wall. The old woman promised, the plague ended and the temple became one of the main centers of devotion in the city, so much so that the street took the name of via Santa Maria di Costantinopoli.
Then in 1575 it was decided to build a real and large church linked to the spread of the cult of Santa Maria di Costantinopoli in the city. The church, with an annexed female monastery, was completed in 1586 and in the early 1600s took its present form thanks to the interventions of the Dominican architect Fra Nuvolo who had already intervened for the Basilica of Santa Maria della Sanità.
On the external façade the inscription "MATRI DEI OB URBEM AC REGNUM A PESTE SERVATUM" was engraved in perpetual memory, indicating "Saved by the plague by the mother of God for the city and for the kingdom".
One of the many churches in Naples full of masterpieces
After various interventions, the church now has a single large rectangular nave and a majolica dome. Inside, in addition to the nave there are five side chapels with decorations by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro and a beautiful carved and gilded wooden ceiling.
In the various chapels there are beautiful paintings including a sixteenth-century Madonna della Purità or that of the Martyrdom of Sant'Erasmo by the Flemish painter Aert Mytens.