St Gennaro's Hospital

The St Gennaro's Hospital is located in the downtown of the so called Rione Sanità in Naples (Via San Gennaro dei Poveri, 25).
Its history begins when, in 1282, some Benedictine monks founded a monastery down the hill of Capodimonte, later used as a crusade hospital for poor people. Only in 1308 it was moved to the current premises, next to the Church of St Gennaro extra moenia.


The entrance courtyard of the Hospital


The Church of St Gennaro

The Church is preceded by a structure with a clock tower, enabled by a double ramp staircase.


Once in, there is a lobby with a bell tower and a vault.The fresco paintings on the vault depicting scenes of the martyrdom of St Gennaro and some of his miracles can be attributed to Andrea Sabatini, an artist active in the second and third decade of the XVI century.1


The painting on the top of the vault represents Saint Gennaro


One of the paintings shows Saint Gennaro stopping a stream of lava coming down from the Vesuvius and it is considered as one of the most ancient raffiguration of the Volcano.2


The Church dates back to the fifth century A.D. and it is built next to St Gennaro’s Catacombs.
Popular opinion was that St. Agrippino and St. Gennaro’s remains were held inside. Actually, it is believed that there were two different buildings joined together, one devoted to St Agrippino and the other one to St Gennaro. However, when they were transferred to Benevento, the Church had fallen into disuse. Only in 872, the Church was rebuilt and conncected to the Monastery. It has three aisles and represents a rare example of paleochristian architecture.3

The Hospital

After years of abandonment, in 1468 Cardinal Oliviero Carafa, a leading figure of the well-known neapolitan family of the Carafa, decided to use it as a hospital for the lepers, with the name of Ospizio dei Poveri of St Pietro and St Gennaro.4
In 1479, it was re-used as a leper hospital and the catacombs were intended to host the corpses.
Then, it was abolished in 1516 and regained its function only in 1656. Thanks to Viceroy Pietro of Aragona the Hospital was increased, for example two new statues were located on the front facade. By 1669 he converted the hospital into a hospice for the poor.5
The original idea was to build a “poor house”, which was supposed to host at least some of the 10,000 mendicant poor at the time.

The Facade

Together with the two statues of St Pietro and St Gennaro, there are two sculptures dedicated to Carlo II and Pietro d’Aragona.6


The project was completed thanks to the generosity of some wealthy benefactors.



By the end of the First World War, the hospital was intended to host head-injured people and after the Second World War it became one of the most important hospital of Naples.
In 1956, a Psychiatric Emergency Room was opened. From then on, it was considered as a focal reference for the neuropsychiatry. Nowadays, the General Emergency room is disabilited, but the obstetrical one is still functional, together with other departments.7

  • Photos and main text by Matilde Martani ti.supmacla|inatram.edlitam#| and Asia Pinto ti.supmacla|otnip.aisa#| (January 2019)

  • Antonio Della Corte, Adelina Pezzillo, Il Rione Sanità. Ancora da Scoprire, Intra Moenia, Napoli 2016, pp. 239-241
  • Leonardo Di Mauro e Renato Ruotolo (a cura di), Napoli e Dintorni, collana Guide Rosse, Touring club editore, Milano 2001, p. 377
  • Ospedale S. Gennaro in the Official Web Site of Azienda Sanitaria Locale Napoli 1 Centro
  • Scipione Volpicella, Principali edifici della città di Napoli: descritti da Scipione Volpicella, Stamperia del Fibreno, Napoli 1847, pp. 669-670

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