After visiting the Fontanelle Cemetery and the Sansevero Chapel, our journey through the esoteric and mysterious places of Naples continues! This time we’re moving towards Gesù Nuovo square to admire one of the most fascinating churches of the city, the Gesù Nuovo Church. Why? Because this church treasures a secret that…is right in front of you!
I had already anticipated at the beginning of this series that in Naples secrets, much like the sheets left hanging from one balcony to another to dry, are in plain sight. Indeed, they are easily discoverable by people with a trained eye. The esoteric and mysterious Naples series serves to improve the skills of "reading between the places" and helps you discover the many beauties of the "City of the Sun". The Gesù Nuovo Church is a perfect examples of what I’m trying to say.
You don’t need to be an expert in 17th century Italian churches to notice that the façade of the Gesù Nuovo seems a little bit odd. Actually, it doesn’t look like a church at all. As a matter of fact, the building was originally built to be a palace as we can read from the inscription visible right on the façade (the little white square on the left in the picture above). Here we read that Novello di San Lucano had designed the building for his commissioner and benefactor, the powerful Roberto Sanseverino Prince of Salerno. The building was completed in 1470 when its tormented history began. After the requisition by Ferrante of Aragon, king of Naples, following the Conspiracy of the Barons, the building of the Gesù Nuovo enjoyed a flourishing period under the patronage of the aristocratic family of the Sanseverinos.
However, the palace was to be re-confiscated by the Jesuits in the 16th century when it was officially transformed into a Catholic church. Subsequently, the Gesù Nuovo underwent countless changes, alterations, even fires, but one thing has remained intact throughout its troubled (according to some even “cursed”) history: the façade made of ashlar masonry in the shape of diamonds. It is exactly here that we have to focus our attention and keep our eyes peeled.
It won’t take you more than one minute to notice that on one side of some of these diamonds there is a weird symbol. If you look even more closely, you’ll see that there are many different symbols scattered on the façade of Gesù Nuovo. What are they? Well, the answer to this question has occupied the minds of many scholars for centuries. According to the most recent discovery made by professor Vincenzo De Pasquale these symbols are Aramaic letters referring to musical notes. If this is the case, the façade "hides" a sheet music to be read bottom-up and from right to left. The arrangement, entitled “Enigma”, (you can hear it below), has not convinced some esoteric experts. For them, these symbols are neither Aramaic letters not musical notes, but are related to magico-esoteric practices and to alchemy.
There would be, then, a connection between these occult incisions on the façade's masonry and the energy emitted by the piperno, the type of stone with which the façade is made of. Piperno was worked only by the Maestri Pipernieri (masters in working the piperno stone) who were knowledgeable of esoteric secrets transmitted orally and under oath from the master to his apprentices. The knowledge of these secrets was pivotal for “charging” the piperno with positive energy.
The weird symbols on the façade of the Gesù Nuovo might then be connected to these alchemic secrets and were supposedly meant to direct positive energy towards the palace. Given the troubled history of the palace that I have briefly mentioned, this stratagem either didn’t work out (the pyramid-shaped piperno stone seems to have attracted negative energy rather than positive) or the Maestri Pipernieri who obviously could not be mistaken, did this on purpose: thus the Gesù Nuovo was bound to become a place attracting negative energy as its history shows.
Finally, according to our already mentioned Martin Rua and his Napoli Esoterica e Misteriosa in the article dedicated to the Sansvero chapel, the symbols could be the signatures of the various groups of Maestri Pipernieri who, doing piecework, needed to have their work recognizable in order to receive the right amount of money.
As you can see, one enigma, many solutions. We don’t know the right answer and maybe we don’t really want to know. What is sure, though, is that the Gesù Nuovo Church is a fascinating place filled with history and secrets: a must-stop for everyone visiting the esoteric and mysterious city of Naples!