According to tradition, Agnello of Naples, now co-patron (compatrono) of the city of Naples, is buried in the Sant'Agnello Maggiore. Agnello was a 6th-century Neapolitan bishop, who defended the city against the besieging Lombards. Supposedly the church had been founded and devoted to the Virgin, by Agnello's parents. Recent studies have shown that the church was built atop an Ancient Roman Acropolis from the 4th century. When Sant'Agnello died, the church's name was changed to Santa Maria dei Sette Cieli (of the Seven Heavens). In the 9th century, Bishop Athanasius of Naples built a new religious building and dedicated to the abbot Saint Agnello and placed his relics in the church. During the Middle Ages, the cult of Sant'Agnello became increasingly important and the end of the 13th century till 1517.
From 1510 to 1600, the church rebuilt and enlarged by the archbishop Giovanni Maria Poderico. The transept, previously the church of Santa Maria Intercede was reconstructed as part of this church in 1517 and work inside continued on till the 18th century. The main altar by Girolamo Santacroce, had additions by Giovanni Battista Pandullo. Vincenzo Martinoredid the pavement.
On August 7, 1809, the monastic order in charge of the church was suppressed and sold by the Minister of Finance to a private citizen Cosimo d'Orazio. The second world war added damage. In 1962, during reconstruction the remains of the ancient acropolis were found. Vandalism, earthquakes, and decay have contributed to its poor state of conservation. In 2011, after a long restoration, the church has reopened.
The church still retains medieval traces in bas reliefs. The paintings moved here are of uncertain attribution. Only the main altar sculpted by Girolamo Santacroce is original.References:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.