La Cappella Sansevero

La Cappella Sansevero
By Michele Di Iorio

Aug. 10, 1751, in Naples, at Vicolo del Sole, the current cove of Prince of Sansevero and San Lorenzo and Vicaria neighborhood, a side street to the left of Via Tribunali, too narrow for the crowds that pass there ... one of the malodorous alleys, full of rats and cockroaches, that wind between palace facades too close together that they almost touch ... In spite of its name, the Sun never illuminates the popular basses of the fondaci from the porous tuff.

Right from here one enters through the main door into the glacial chapel, built in 1590 as the aristocratic sepulchre of the de Sangro family, princes of Sansevero, among them a few sumptuous tombs remodeled since 1737 by Raimondo, lit with a few votive lamps overhead.

As many as 30 young lackeys, valets, grooms, groomsmen, servants, commanded by the French butler of the house of Sansevero, Monsieur Lambert, Neapolitans, Apulians, Calabrians, Lucanians, Molisians and even Moors, very loyal to the mysterious Prince De Sangro, all armed with daggers and sticks, guard in groups the access to Sansevero Palace, Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, the alley of the Sun, the entrances and the covered bridge between the Palace and the nearby Family Chapel.

Precise orders: “no laymen or onlookers are to spy or enter the Chapel; strict orders but almost useless at that sultry afternoon hour ...”

Twelve people, including two young women, are among the aristocratic tombs, surrounded by plasterers, sculptors, painters, stonemasons, and garons, directed by two painters, the elderly Venetian master Antonio Corradini, chief architect of the works and master of the sculptural sketches being executed in the Chapel, and the young painter Giuseppe Sammartino from Naples, who is eager to pocket the deposit for the Veiled Christ he is to execute from a sketch by Corradini himself, under the direct supervision of Prince Raimondo.

The prince is escorted by two gentlemen from his retinue, the Roman engineer Felice Piccinini, mathematics tutor to his sons and director of De Sangro's alchemical laboratory, and the Spaniard Don Pedro de Molina from Barcelona-the father of the future Luisa Sanfelice-a young major and aide-de-camp of line infantry from the Apulian Capitanata regiment commanded by the prince himself.

Work is hard at work to arrange in the workshop below, between the two large furnaces or athanors, the marble that will give life to the Veiled Christ, to be pulled up with ropes and winches along the tufa staircase with large, sliding stone handrails, the access to which is at the side to Raimondo's tomb, built in 1750 by the mysterious painter Francesco Maria Russo.

The oldest tomb is at right angles to the prince's, the tomb of his ancestor who died in 1651, the young Ferdinand de Sangro, an alchemist and amateur poet, whose reincarnation our Raimondo believed he was, living in Naples 120 years earlier.

Access to the alchemical laboratory was by means of a lever located between the marble friezes of that sacellum.

The rest of the group of twelve gazes spellbound at the vault of the chapel, where the 1749 fresco by the same mysterious painter Francesco Maria Russo, with the help of Don Raimondo's strange heliosolar relief painting of alchemical production, who with his ingenuity had also produced a year later the design of the tomb with the marble illuminated characters,with the dove of the Holy Spirit inscribed in the triangular Masonic delta and not in the classic holy halo ...

Among the tombs often behind is effigyed an Egyptian pyramid ... in remembrance of Raimondo’s lodge, the Order of the Red Rose, which anagramically reads Raimondo de Sangro, as the visitors present in the Chapel that day well know.

In addition to Sansevero, the 12 of the guard group, Piccinini, Corradini, Sammartino, de Molina, also present were Carlotta de Sangro, the beloved daughter, and Donna Marianna Ardighelli academician of France, Don Gennaro Carafa di Roccella, Raimondo's cousin, Prince Sanseverino di Bisignano, another relative, Don Vincenzo Moncada, prince of Calvaruso and colonel of a Sicilian Bourbon regiment, Henry Theodor Tschudy, a Swiss from Metz , lieutenant of the Swiss regiments of the King of Naples, Raimondo's mason aide, and finally Luigi d'Acquino of Caramanico, brother of Prince Francesco, Raimondo's cousin, the future Altothas guide of the young Alexander of Cagliostro.

Also among the lackeys was a young Algerian nobleman, Raìs Mohamed Ingnet , nephew of the Bey, the Islamic governor of Algiers, and Iris, a young Berber girl from the Tuareg of the Kingdom of Morocco, both of whom had been freed and released from captivity in the stone quarries of Mondragone for the building of the Bourbon palace in Caserta.

They had been taken prisoner in that year by the Neapolitan warships of King Charles of Bourbon, under the command of the gallant frigate captain Don Peppe or rather Joseph Martinez from Barcelona, who returned blow after blow the reprisals and raids of Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian and Tripolitan pirates on the coasts of the Kingdom of Naples.

The fleet raided both their territory and the open sea attacking the Islamic armed feluccas, taking prisoners and bringing them to the king as trophy slaves.

The two young Moors who were in Ramon's service had been baptized on his orders by the chaplain, Don Gennaro Ottone, in the very noble chapel; after a few months they were married in the Catholic religious rite.

The woman, Iris, was maid to the blond princess Carlotta Caetani, Raimondo's beautiful and virtuous wife; he, Mohamed , as we have seen, was instead a lackey and alchemist and Raimondo's bodyguard.

Between 1763 and 1765 Iris and Mohamed died natural deaths: she from childbirth and he from a tumor in his foot.

Their bodies ended up being the so-called anatomical machines of the Sansevero Chapel ... "built" together with Palermo’s physician Don Giuseppe Salerno with the help of the “Osiris Philosopher's Stone” discovered in 1750 in Naples.

Here they are, look at them ... The 12 present in August 10, 1751 are working around Raimondo on the Osiris principle of Physical Immortality ... The unembalmed dead, the undead , who continue their existence thanks to certain secret techniques contained in certain chapters of the Egyptian Book of the Dead ...

Looking closely among the paintings of the Sansevero Chapel, among the radiant marbles of immortal fame through the centuries, one can see an inscription: Francesco Maria Russo, painter who never existed ... An inscription that anagrammatically reads Fra Massoni Rusacroce ... that is, the builder of cathedrals.

... Remember V.I.T.R.I.O.L., the alchemical code that stands for "Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultam Lapidem," that is, "Visit the interior of the Earth: rectifying you will find the hidden stone."