Catacombe di San Gaudioso

Catacombs of Saint Gaudiosus


Useful Information

Location: Inside the Basilica Santa Maria della Sanità, beneath the main altar. Ticket office: Basilica dell'Incoronata Madre del Buon Consiglio, Via Capodimonte, 13, 80136 Napoli
Open: All year daily 10-13.
[2020]
Fee: Adults EUR 9, Children (6-17) EUR 5, Children (0-5) free, Students EUR 6, Seniors EUR 6, Disabled free.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 6, School Pupils EUR 4.
Tickets also valid for Catacombe di San Gennaro.
[2020]
Classification: SubterraneaCatacomb
Light: electric
Dimension:  
Guided tours:  
Photography:  
Accessibility: not accessible
Bibliography:  
Address: Basilica Santa Maria della Sanità, Piazza Sanità, 14, 80136 Napoli NA, Tel: +39-081-744-3714.
Catacombe di Napoli, Via Tondo di Capodimonte, 13 80136 Napoli, Tel: +39-081-744-37-14, Fax: +39-081-744-37-14. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

451-453 St. Gaudiosus buried in the catacombs.
9th cty remains of the Saints relocated.
9th cty catacombs lost diue to landslides.
16th cty rediscovered and used as cemetery for the nobles and clergy.
17th cty again lost.
1991 fresco of Saint MAry rediscovered.
2011 fresco restored.
2017 catacombs restored.
2018 opened to the public.

Description

The Catacombe di San Gaudioso (Catacombs of Saint Gaudiosus) are located below the Basilica of Santa Maria della Sanità. They are considered the second most important early Christian cemetery of Naples. Actually the whole valley, which is today one of the most densely populous neighbourhoods in Naples, was once a necropolis and burial ground. The quarter is called Rione Sanità (health district), which is quite strange fore a graveyard. The reason are miracles which were attributed to the Saints which were buried in the catacombs. The valley has a tiotal of nine catacomb complexes, four of them, San Gennaro, San Gaudioso, San Severo and Fontanelle ossuary have been unearthed.

Septimius Celius Gaudiosus was also known as Gaudiosus of Naples or Gaudiosus the African, because he was bishop of Abitina in Tunisia. He died between 451 and 453 AD, and as he originated from Naples his body was returned and he was buried in a cemetery which was outside the city walls of Naples at that time. Soon the underground cemetery began to arouse devotion and was expanded. The oldest part of the catacombs was built in this time, between the 4th and 6th century. The graves show frescoes and mosaics from this time, with typical symbols that were widely used in the early Christian era, such as the fish, the lamb, and grapes with branches. But the catacombs were abandoned, because the remains of San Gennaro were stolen by Prince Sicone I, who brought them to Benevento. In the 9th century the remains of St. Severus and St. Gaudiosus were relocated inside the walls of Naples. Entrances closed by later modifications, by the construction of the Basilica, or by mudslides called Lave dei Vergini.

The catacombs were again used as a burial site during the 16th and 17th century. A fresco of the Madonna della Sanità, which was concealed by mud, was rediscovered. It is the oldest depiction of the Virgin Mary in the Campania. As a result the nobles and clergy were now buried in the catacombs. The way this was done was new: the skulls were placed on display in the walls of the ambulatory, the rest of the body was painted as a fresco, with the clothes and professional instruments. The corpses were placed in niches so that they would lose their fluids. Those niches were called cantarelle, from the Greek canthàrus, because of the vessel which were placed under the body to collect the body fluids during the draining process. Afterwards the bones were washed and laid to rest.

After the catacombs were lost again, the famous fresco was accidentially rediscovered in 1991, and after a campaign to collect money was restored in 2011. In 2017 the rest of the catacombs was restored including the early frescoes, the majolica floor tiles, and the 17th century tombs.