The morning had been devoted to the worship of beautiful things and after lunch we visited the Church and Cloister of Santa Chiara and marveled at Cristo Velato, The Veiled Christ in the the Chapel of Sansevero. My favorite part of Santa Chiara was the majolica cloister and courtyard. I probably wouldn’t make it in this convent long. I would be too wrapped up in the vivid colors, scenes and designs instead of focusing on my appointed mission. I’m more a Fraulein Maria than the Mother Abbess.
The 14th century church was lovely too but the combination of nature, sunshine, heat and majolica was more appealing. You can also see the ruins of Roman spa circa First century CE, again historical and nice, but let’s go outside!
Cristo velato looks how it sounds–veiled Christ. In real life though it’s something else. Antonio Canova loved the sculpture so much so that he would have traded ten years of his life to have been the sculptor.
There is such movement in the veil and body you can imagine Christ waking up and saying hello, although he seems to be in a deep sleep. The chapel overall is unassuming from the outside. Once you go in the other haunting sculptures and interior decoration overwhelm you. Cristo velato lies in the center of the chapel. Apparently he was destined for the underground chamber that would have been tomb for the Prince of Sansevero and his relatives. Instead there are two anatomical machines which are weird and fascinating. The machines are skeletons of a man and woman with their arteries and veins intact. No one is sure how this was possible but there they stand.