The Complex - which includes the Church, the Museum and the Hypogeum (the Lower Church) - represents an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the ancient cult of the souls in Purgatory. In 1605 a group of nobles founded a charitable institution (“Opera Pia”), a laic Congregation, which had among the main purposes that of “taking care” of the souls in Purgatory. The elegant Church, designed by Giovan Cola di Franco, was built from the outset on two levels: the upper church, a true masterpiece of Baroque Neapolitan, and the lower church, or Hypogeum, where still today takes place the worship of poor (“pezzentelle”) souls. Of great value is the iconography of the Church: on the Altar there is the masterpiece by Massimo Stanzione, The Madonna of the souls of purgatory, which is surmounted from a painting of Giacomo Farelli, named Saint Anne offers the baby Virgin to the Lord, and in the side chapels a painting by Andrea Vaccaro, The Transit of St. Joseph, and a painting by Luca Giordano, The Ecstasy of Saint Alexis The complex also houses a small, precious Museum (“Museo dell’Opera”), that hosts a collection of paintings and objects made between the seventeenth and the nineteenth century the Historical Archive and a medical clinic dedicated to the needies.
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