San Gennaro and the saints process through Naples, Italy

My Africa interlude is finished for now. This piece was written in May 2016, a few days after I’d followed the annual procession of saints through the old streets of Naples, Italy. It was an unforgettable day.

The Phraser

San Gennaro under escort through Naples, Italy San Gennaro, his blood, and the saints process under escort through Naples, Italy

In Naples the less usual is everywhere.

A few weeks ago it was San Gennaro, his blood, and a selection of saints, who added the extraordinary as they were carried shoulder high in procession through the city’s streets from the cathedral to the church of Santa Chiara.

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Italy: Naples raises its voice to defend its rights over San Gennaro

I wrote this piece in March 2016. It gives the history of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, and covers the storm that raged over the threat to the city’s custody of the saint.

The Phraser

Mural of San Gennaro near the Duomo in Naples, Italy Mural of San Gennaro near the Duomo in Naples, Italy

A threat has been made to the heart of an old city, to a unique relationship between the people and their saint.  The partnership has lasted through centuries of invasion, violence, disease and volcanic turbulence … but now bureaucracy wants its say.

The challenge is to the arrangements in place for the care of the patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro, and his glittering collection of treasure.

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The shadow of San Gennaro – Naples, Italy

San Gennaro and his ostensorium in the cathedral of Naples, Italy on 19 September 2016

San Gennaro and his ostensorium in the cathedral of Naples, Italy on 19 September 2016

The liquefaction of the blood of San Gennaro, an event known as ‘il prodigio‘, happens three times a year in Naples, Italy … at least it should.  This December on the last, and least high profile, of these occasions for 2016, San Gennaro’s blood did not liquefy.

There are many in Naples who will see this as an ominous sign for the city.

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Madre: the museum of contemporary art in Napoli

Internal courtyard of the Museo Madre in Naples, Italy with art by Mimmo Paladino on the roof

Internal courtyard of the Museo Madre in Naples, Italy with art by Mimmo Paladino on the roof

Art is a place to be, a place that tries to reach us, provoke us. It swallows the rules, the clocks, the to and fro, and waits for us to respond.

Much of Naples itself is art – ancient, modern, faded, alive – but it does not have the quiet, the spaces between, that the Madre brings to its displays.  This is the luxury of a visit to the Madre, the chance to leave the hectic city and step into its  calm.

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Italy: Naples raises its voice to defend its rights over San Gennaro

Mural of San Gennaro near the Duomo in Naples, Italy

Mural of San Gennaro near the Duomo in Naples, Italy

A threat has been made to the heart of an old city, to a unique relationship between the people and their saint.  The partnership has lasted through centuries of invasion, violence, disease and volcanic turbulence … but now bureaucracy wants its say.

The challenge is to the arrangements in place for the care of the patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro, and his glittering collection of treasure.

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Naples, Italy: on its way to the New Year

Image from a t-shirt design by 'Officina Flegrea'

Image from a t-shirt design by ‘Officina Flegrea’ – off.flegrea@gmail.com

In the summer of 2014 we arrived in our new home on the outskirts of Naples.  We left this autumn.  Two years in total, two years in which we were privileged to see places many Neapolitans themselves never get the chance to visit.  Some of the sights we saw were outside the city but many were squeezed into its narrow streets.

This post, mainly of photographs, is a glance at the context, at some of the neighbourhoods and corners, that frame a few of those places that were in Naples itself.

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