San Gregorio Armeno ('St. Gregory of Armenia') is a church and a monastery in Naples. It is one of the most important Baroque complexes in Naples.
In the 8th century, the iconoclast decrees in Greece caused a number of religious orders to flee the Byzantine empire and seek refuge elsewhere. San Gregorio Armeno in Naples was built in the 10th century over the remains of a Roman temple dedicated to Ceres, by a group of nuns escaping from the Byzantine Empire with the relics of St. Gregory, bishop of Armenia. During the Norman domination the monastery was united to that of the Salvatore and San Pantaleone, assuming the Benedictine rule.
The construction of the church was begun in 1574, using designs by Giovanni Battista Cavagni, and consecrated five years later. A later consecration dates to 1674, and refurbishment to 1762. The façade has three arcades surmounted by four pilaster strips in Tuscan order. The interior has a single nave with five side arcades: the decoration, with the exception of the five chapels, was finished by Luca Giordano in 1679. Bernardino Lama, likely the son of Giovanni Bernardo Lama, was author of the altarpiece. The interior houses also the famous Holy Staircase, used by the nuns during their penitences.
The cupola was painted with a Glory of San Gregorio by Luca Giordano. The ceiling cassettoni or framed canvases depict the Life of the St Gregorio Armeno and were commissioned by the abbess Beatrice Carafa from the Flemish Teodoro d'Errico. On the right, the altarpieces include an Annunciation of Mary by Pacecco De Rosa, a Virgin of the Rosary by Nicola Malinconico, and frescoes by Francesco Di Maria. On the left, is a St. Benedictaltarpiece by Spagnoletto. The main altar was designed by Dionisio Lazzari, and has an altarpiece depicting the Resurrection by Giovanni Bernardo Lama.
The Idria Chapel houses eighteen paintings by Paolo De Matteis, portraying the Life of Mary. Over the chapel's high altar is a medieval icon, in Byzantine style, of the Madonna dell'Idria.
The main attraction is the cloister (1580). In the centre is a marble fountain, decorated with dolphins and other marine creatures, with the statues of 'Christ and the Samaritana', by Matteo Bottiglieri.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.