The conservatory of the most holy Rosary rises in the heart of the Monticchio’s Village, one of the eighteen typical villages of Massa Lubrense. Monticchio is located in a very wide valley on the west side of S.Maria della Neve . The square of the village, where the most important church consecrated to S.Pietro rises, is located at 315 meters above sea level. The Village, however, it extends up on the hill, even more then 350 meters. We have knowledge of Monticchio from 1221, when the old church of S. Pietro was founded. In the 1489 it was named “ Monditio”, and it counted no more then 179 inhabitants. The village of Monticchio takes its name from its position, up on a mound. There are fountains, gardens and hunting place of Focetole and Turdi.
The Cloister of Monticchio
The foundation of the Conservatory was strongly wanted By Cristina Olivieri, a young and devout Neapolitan women, who since 1707 used to spend her holydays in the village of Monticchio, guested by the Tizzano’s family. During this time she worked so much to pick up the money nedded for the construction of the cloister. Once she did it, sister Cristina bought two small areas near the local church, and after she got the approval of the bishop De Rossi in 1723, she invited the priest of Monticchio to bless the first stone. This event raised a general discontent between the citizens of Massa Lubrense, already harassed by the privileges of the Religious Corporations. In fact between the 16th and the 17th century, there was a great expansion f the religious cult and the sacred buildings add up to as many as 100. The religious multiplied. At the beginning of the 18th century, thanks to the several acts of mercy, which have happened over the past two decades, the churches, the chapels, the monasteries and the abbeys, they owned almost the entire territory of Massa Lubrense. The city ended with a wealthy class made up of religious and a poor one, which included the rest of the citizens. The people of Massa Lubrense were forced to resort to the holy Roman Congregation and to the Viceroy of Naples, in order to protest against the construction of the new cloister. Sister Cristina Olivieri, to bypass such demands, she declared that those factories were built as a private use. The protest and the objections of the citizens and the defense of the founder they continued for several years, in the meantime the construction of the building, it kept. In the 1746 the Conservatory was finished and inhabited by nuns. Attached to the cloister there is a church name after S. Maria del Rosario and both the buildings they belong to the order of S. Domenico.
The Co. founder of the complex was Ignazio Chiaiese, a great artist of the Neapolitan earthenware in the 18th century, who belong to one of the most important dynasties operating in this type of art in the city of Naples between the end of the 17th century and the 18th century. Also the tiles of the Congregation in the Cathedral of Sorrento, and the decorated wall still visible in the yard of Palazzo Correale, are attributable to this factory. Ignazio Chiaiese was the son of Leonardo, author of the floor “ The Expulsion from the Garden”, in Ancapri. He arrived in Monticchio on behalf of his aunt, who a few weeks before, she had brought her daughter to the cloister. She regretted and she asked him to help her. She asked him to get to the cloister , free her daughter and bring her home. The legend says that Ignazio Chiaiese, once he was at the presence of Sister Cristina Olivieri, was fascinated by the women with the blind eyes, in which he saw the heavenly light of the conversion. Sister Cristina told him to be the man of the providence, sent by the Lord to help her in the construction of the cloister, and so he did. He also became one of its biggest donors. In fact he picked up several donations between the local wealthy families. Mastr’Ignazio, like he was called, he embellished the inside areas of the cloister and of the church using the art of the “tile”.
The cloister in particular holds a panel of tiles in baroque style, in which the author represents himself, penitent at the foot of the Virgin, single example of self-portrait known with this technique. The frame, also in baroque style, is painted on the same level of the represented scene. The author represents himself on his knee, penitent at the foot of the Virgin, depicted in the center of the composition, with a spear in her hand. The Virgin targets with her sword a quietly sitting dragon. Ignazio is linked to the dragon through some chains which are nearly cracked. The chains symbolize the sins. He is free from the chains of sin but he stays on his knee because he actually wants to stay sinner
For the first time the Virgin is represented armed, holding a spear. The Madonna in fact she is never a punisher. She is always represented as a “Mother full of Grace”.
On either side of the main panel there are two more paints on tiles.
The one on the left side represent a sleeper St. Joseph and the angel Gabriel who appears in his dream. Next to St. Joseph there is a flower stick, sign of the divine choice. The panel on the right side instead, it represents St. Francis likewise sleeper. The Saint sleep while a storm is taking place and a galleon is floundering. The vessel is like the one used by the Saracen pirates, which in 1558 fiercely invaded Massa Lubrense and Sorrento. The “sinking” is an allegory which means the storm of the soul. Everyone in his life get through a storm and to get over it, we have to abandon everything is force and rely on God. The force is symbolized by the sword painted on the bottom right of the composition.
Church of the Most Holy Rosary
The church has a 17th century facade accessed by a staircase with two semicircular ramps. The inside is baroque, with an elegant architecture and decoration. The layout is a Greek Cross with very shorts arms and is underneath by a lowered cup with a torch. The construction of the church had already started in 1746, as shown Mons. Pisani who in that year, he visited the cloister which was just finished. The church instead, was finished in 1762, a date which is legible on the floor and on the pipe organ. The floor full completely covered by tiles, is gorgeous, and it was also made by Ignazio Chiaiese. The paint is dominated by a big star which symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The overlying dome perfectly match with the symbolic representation painted on the floor. On the longest rays of the star we can admire garlands of flowers. On the tiles on the sides of the High Altar, are painted four peacocks, each one in a different position, below which we found the ossuaries. All the flooring is characterized by flowers paints which most likely were chosen to remind the outside garden of the cloister. In the middle of the High Altar, we found a framework of the” Blessed Virgin of the Rosary”, and on the sides we can admire the “Dinner in Emaus” and the “Adoration of the Magi”. The technique used for the creation of the paints is the one which is characterized by the play of lights and shadows. This kind of technique was typical of the Neapolitan School in that period. In the framework of the “Last Supper”, the Apostles are represented all at the same side. There is no emphasis of the one who sinned. This kind of representation was used for the very first time by Leonardo Da Vinci to realize his paint of the “Last Supper”, exposed in the Sistine Chapel. “The Adoration of the Magi” is from the Baroque.