Naples' trove displayed
ROME — A rarely seen Neapolitan collection of sumptuous jewelery, hidden for centuries and estimated to be more valuable than England's crown jewels, opened in Rome.
The “Treasure of San Gennaro,” precious objects donated in tribute to the patron saint of Naples, has rarely left the southern Italian city and spent centuries in a vault, largely forgotten by the wider world.
The 70 pieces were transported under heavily armed guard to a central Rome museum earlier this month and will be on display until February.
Known in English as Januarius, the bishop of Naples was martyred in the 3rd century and remains popular among Catholics.
Thousands gather three times a year to see whether a vial of his coagulated blood will turn to liquid, which they believe to be a miracle bringing good fortune to the city.
Some Neapolitans attribute a 1980 earthquake that killed thousands to the failure of the dried blood to liquefy, but skeptics say the liquefaction could be brought about by shaking or heat from hands holding the vial.
In the 1520s, when Naples was struggling with plague, war and the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, surviving citizens pledged to build a chapel for the saint in return for his protection.
The vow was put in writing by a lawyer, and the original 1527 document is on display at the exhibition entrance in the Fondazione Roma-Museo.
The hoard includes what is thought to be one of the most precious pieces of jewelery in the world — the necklace of San Gennaro, begun in 1679 to adorn a gold and silver bust containing the skull of the saint.
Separate ornate pieces of jewelery were forged together over centuries to make the necklace, including a cross of diamonds and emeralds donated by French Emperor Napoleon and many gifts from monarchs dating from years when the Kingdom of Naples was a major power.
“This necklace tells the history of Europe,” said Paolo Jorio, director of a Naples museum where the collection is kept.
The necklace includes a relatively humble pair of earrings, the only possession of a commoner spared in a disease epidemic in 1844, who donated the family heirloom to the saint.
Another centerpiece is a golden mitre, the ceremonial headdress of bishops, commissioned to crown the saint's bust in its annual procession and made of 3,300 diamonds and hundreds of rubies and emeralds.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pakistan fervent about anti-blasphemy law
- Cuban President Castro says nation won’t abandon socialist ideals
- Liberia holds senate elections delayed by Ebola epidemic
- No movement yet on Afghan cabinet
- Kurds apply pressure to Islamic State
- Thousands in Spain protest ban on demonstrations, burning national flag
- North Korea proposes joint probe over hacking attack against Sony
- Taliban siege at Pakistani school ends with 141 dead
- Analysis: Antibiotic-resistant superbugs could kill more people than cancer
- In Mideast, refugee babies left stateless
- Russia seeks 10 years in prison for Putin foe Navalny