Year 3 - n.2 - February 2003



San Lorenzo Maggiore's Church has got antique origins: it rises on an area that was  already occupied in the Roman age by a covered market (macellum) dating back to the second half of the I century a.C. and then left at the end of the V century a.C. Then, during the IV century a.C., the bishop in Aversa, Giovanni II, made an Ancient Christian Basilica build on the place dedicated to Lorenzo martyr.  


This Basilica having three naves, an abside that was preceded by an atrium, was shorter than the present church, but it had got the same width, if we don't consider the surfaces of the chapels. 


The visitor can understand the dimensions of the old  basilica thanks to some brass listels that, put in the pavement, show the position of the external walls and the supporting columns of the nave. 


The first Neapolitan Franciscan community settled in this church in 1234, making use of a gift that the bishop in Aversa gave to the Friars Minor.

In the same year the face of the church, whose remains the acute arc portal, was built by the protonotary of the Bartolomeo Reign in Capua..

The fresco in the lunette, that is under the arc, represents San Lorenzo's martyrdom. It was made by Attanasio Mozzillo (XVIII century)


In 1266, the Angioini took the place of the Sveva dynasty, so the Franciscans, like the other beggar Orders, took advantage of the fervour of the building enterprises that were wanted by new dynasty. 


Carlo d'Angio I wanted the construction of a new sacred building bigger and more prestigiuos that replaced the old basilica in VI century. The new church had the typical architectonic style of the French Ghotic. 


In the following centuries, the church had several reconstructions and changes, also because of different earthquakes that convulsed the town, in particular in 1456.

Among the works that ruined the church greatly, we remember the ones that were made, like D'Engenio said " when The Friars Minor and their prior Frà Gennaro Rocco, who was the executioner of this church, wanted embellish and renovate it: everything was in chaos"

(C. D’Engenio, Napoli Sacra, Napoli, 1623, p. 124).  



Tiziana Assante