Cappella Sansevero

Church in Naples

The Veiled Christ Anagoria
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Anagoria

The Cappella Sansevero, also known as the Chapel of Santa Maria della Pietà, is a gem of Rococo art nestled in the historic center of Naples, Italy. Located on Via Francesco de Sanctis, close to the church of San Domenico Maggiore, this chapel is a testament to the artistic and cultural legacy of the 18th century.

Historical Background of the Chapel of Santa Maria della Pietà

The origins of the chapel trace back to 1590 when John Francesco di Sangro, Duke of Torremaggiore, commissioned its construction following his recovery from a severe illness. Initially part of the gardens of the nearby Sansevero family residence, the Palazzo Sansevero, the chapel was transformed into a family burial site in 1613 by Alessandro di Sangro. It reached its current form under the guidance of Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero, in the mid-18th century, who also incorporated Masonic symbols into the chapel’s architecture. A notable connection existed between the chapel and the Sansevero palace through a passageway until 1888.

The chapel is alternately known as Pietatella, a name derived from a depiction of the Virgin Mary, La Pietà, which inspired its original dedication. This name was popularized following an account by Cesare d’Engenio Caracciolo in his 1623 book “Napoli Sacra.”

Artistic Highlights of Chapel of Santa Maria della Pietà

Cappella Sansevero is renowned for its extraordinary collection of Rococo art, housing nearly thirty masterpieces. Notably, it features three spectacular marble statues:

  1. The Veiled Truth (Pudicizia) by Antonio Corradini, created in 1752, is a tomb monument for Cecilia Gaetani dell’Aquila d’Aragona, Raimondo’s mother. This statue is famous for its intricate depiction of a veiled figure, symbolizing modesty or chastity.
  2. Christ Veiled under a Shroud (Veiled Christ), crafted by Giuseppe Sanmartino in 1753, showcases the influence of Corradini’s work, portraying Christ under a delicately carved marble veil.
  3. The Release from Deception (Disinganno), completed between 1753 and 1754 by Francesco Queirolo, serves as a monument to Raimondo’s father. This statue is remarkable for its detailed representation of a fisherman’s net, embodying the theme of liberation from deception.

Additionally, the chapel’s ceiling, painted by Francesco Maria Russo in 1749, illustrates the Glory of Paradise, adding to the chapel’s celestial ambiance. The original floor, most of which was replaced in 1901, featured a black and white design symbolizing good and evil and was arranged in a labyrinth pattern, indicating Masonic symbolism for initiation.

Other Features of Chapel of Santa Maria della Pietà

In the basement, visitors can find a painting titled “Madonna con Bambino” by Giuseppe Pesce, dating from around 1750. This artwork, painted with wax-based paints developed by Raimondo di Sangro himself, was gifted to Charles Bourbon, the King of Naples, exemplifying the chapel’s deep connections with Neapolitan royalty and culture.

The Cappella Sansevero stands not only as a repository of art but also as a symbol of the rich cultural and historical heritage of Naples, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in the interplay of art, history, and spirituality.

The Cappella Sansevero appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Naples!

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Visiting Cappella Sansevero


Wednesday to Monday: 9 am to 7 pm.

Closed Tuesdays.


Adults: €8. Young people between 10 and 25 years old: €5. Children under 10 years old: free.

Address: Cappella Sansevero, Via Francesco de Sanctis, Naples, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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