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Armenian Culture, Science and Education Development Foundation

San Gregorio Armeno

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The church/monastery of San Gregorio Armeno is in the heart of the historic center of Naples and has given its name to the street on which it is situated. In common parlance, that street is referred to as the street of the figurari, in reference to those who craft the popular figures and sets used in the typical Neapolitan Christmas manger scene, the presepe. The street is marked by the tower of the church belfry that actually spans the street, itself. It is from the 1700s and was built onto an earlier walkway above the street.

The church was founded shortly after the iconoclast decrees of the eighth century caused a number of religious orders to flee the Byzantine empire and seek refuge elsewhere. Those dedicated to Gregory, bishop of Armenia (257-332), founded their place of worship in Naples on the site of an older Roman temple of Ceres. In 1025 it was joined with two other adjacent chapels into a single complex as a Benedictine monastic order. The monastery still functions as such, retaining its high walls and maintaining a spectacular inner courtyard characterized by a central fountain with a sculpture of Christ and the Samaritan by Matteo Bottigliero from 1733.
As for the courtyard, a pink tufa monument pillar called a stele, 2.70 meters high and weighing 1500 kg, has been installed on the premises of the church. It is a faithful copy of a 1564 Armenian monument and is a gift from the people of Armenia to the Neapolitan church where the mortal remains of the Armenian saint, for whom the church is named, are kept. Armenia has also provided for a partial restoration of the church premises. The gift comes on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the genocide against the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

GregArmenoCortile

 

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