The "Broken Christ" of San Carlo all'Arena: a lesson in love

by Federico Quagliuolo

In the church of San Carlo all'Arena, in a niche, there is the statue of the "broken Christ". It sits on a red velvet carpet, with the marble marked by thousands of fractures and with the face that, in that position, paradoxically looks like that of a man who sleeps with a sweet look, now relaxed

It is a statue that tells a little story of love and faith.

Broken Christ San Carlo at the Arena

A prized and unfortunate "broken Christ"

Originally the statue was obviously not nicknamed "Broken Christ". On the contrary, era a work of art of great value. It was made by Michelangelo Naccherino, one of the most famous and highly rated Florentine sculptors of his century. He worked for most of his career in the Kingdom of Naples and has signed many works of art, such as the Giant's Fountain which today is located on the seafront. The work dates back to 1599, in full time viceregal, and disappeared from the church during the eighteenth-century restoration work. This statue was indeed found by chance in a closet, in 1835. And it was put back in its church, at least for a century.

The fire of 1926

The church of San Carlo all'Arena had one assiduous attendance over the centuries and the good Jesus has looked down from above dozens and dozens of generations that have alternated under his feet. At least until a disastrous one fire in 1926, which destroyed the church and burned the wooden crucifix which for centuries had held up the marble statue.
The collapse was disastrous: the crucifix broke into a thousand pieces, scattering splinters on the church floor. The statue was now compromised, reduced to a heap of shapeless rubble that certainly no longer had any use.

It was here that a miracle.

A group of anonymous faithful, saddened by the damage suffered by the church, he decided to get together to save what can be saved. And slowly began the collection of fragments of the statue, a bit like a sacred puzzle to be reassembled. Then there was the reconstruction, which would make any professional restorer angry: the broken Christ of San Carlo all'Arena was in fact reassembled by the same faithful with makeshift tools: glue and love.

No arms were found during the restoration operations and still today the statue is incomplete. For the rest, the body badly rebuilt it was placed on the current altar: since then it has been the object of veneration by the faithful.
And now he tells us the story of a time when broken things were fixed with love and not hastily thrown away.

-Roberta Montesano and Federico Quagliuolo

The story is dedicated to Giovanna Esposito for her generous donation. Support Naples Stories too!

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