The bride of Capodimonte

The bride of Capodimonte

Naples, universally known as ‘the city of sun and sea,’ is also shrouded in a dense veil of mystery, thanks to a rich tradition of legends and superstitions that have been passed down through the centuries.

One of the most touching is surely that of the ‘bride of Capodimonte,’ a spectral figure that regularly appears on the steps of the Basilica dell’Incoronata Madre del Buon Consiglio, also known as ‘La Piccola San Pietro.’ Her name is unknown, as well as how old she was when she disappeared forever. For the Neapolitans, she is simply ‘’a sposa ‘e Capodimonte,’ a young woman whose life was cut short by tuberculosis, an infectious disease widespread among the poorest classes due to poor hygienic-sanitary conditions, on the eve of her wedding. The day after her death, the white drapes and decorations that adorned the church gave way to black ones as a sign of mourning, and the parish priest, instead of celebrating the joyous event, commemorated the funeral of the young bride. The same majestic church that was supposed to unite her in marriage had turned into her eternal tomb.

According to the tale, her melancholic spirit appears on spring evenings, shrouded in a white veil, eternally awaiting a promised groom who will never arrive. It is believed that the bride is only seen by unmarried girls.

This ancient story intertwines with another legend set in the same basilica, a place that seems to be a crossroads of miraculous events and apparitions. During the devastating earthquake of 1980, a marble bust of the Madonna, proudly placed at the top of the church’s facade, suddenly detached and fell. Incredibly, the statue remained intact, landing on its feet, an event that amazed and delighted the citizens. Although the statue split in two – the Virgin’s bust with the Child separated from the Madonna’s head – the lack of damage to people or structures was immediately interpreted as a divine sign. Today, a stone slab at the entrance of the Basilica commemorates this extraordinary episode, a symbol of resilience and heavenly protection over the community.

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