Augustinian monastery and Annunziata church.
The origins of the Augustinian monastery are very ancient. Its construction dates back to 1370, when the feudal lords of the time, Ercole del Balzo and Isabella d'Apia, had the new residence built in what was originally a marginal area and outside the protective walls of the Castello Gerione and, to increase that area, they established the city market in the large space in front of them (which is why even today commonly referred to as the "Market").
Upon succession of properties, Duke Sanseverino had the Augustinian friars transferred to the structure located in today's Sant'Agostino district, in turn occupying the friars' complex. 1
In 1580, as in other convents in Campagna, the convent underwent expansions, which were resumed and continued from 1590 to 1618, when the primitive palatine chapel dedicated to Santa Maria Annunziata was also completely renovated, transforming it into the new church of the convent. 2
In 1616 all the work on the beautiful cloister inside was completed and an equally beautiful octagonal fountain was installed in the centre. Other elements of undisputed interest are the sixteen stone arches, masterfully worked, on which 16 coats of arms are engraved and the vaults, inside which there are a series of frescoes with representations of Augustinian life.
The structure maintained its sacredness until the revolution of 1799, when following this event it was destined to house the Republican Municipality.
In 1807, even before the abrogation of the Kingdom, the convent was already on the verge of suppression: in fact, it ended up under the magnifying glass on charges of anti-French conduct.
On 4 May 1811, with the Murat decree, Campagna became the seat of the district capital and seat of the Sottointendenza, later transformed into a Sub-prefecture after the unification of Italy.
The province of the Principality Citra with the capital Salerno was divided into four districts: Salerno, Campagna, Vallo and Sala Consilina; the offices of Sottointendenza were placed in the now ex Augustinian Convent.
The conspiracy against the friars, alas, did not end there. In 1820, King Giuseppe Bonaparte, on a visit to nearby Persano, was informed during his stay by local spies and decreed the suppression of the Augustinians and Dominicans of Campagna, guilty of plotting against the French 3 .
Some monks were even arrested accused of carrying around with weapons. Today the structure is home to Palazzo di Città, a settlement dated after the 1980 earthquake, after it had been established for years in the Seat of San Berardino in the square Melchiorre Guerriero, chosen immediately after the war and made necessary due to the huge damage suffered.
The church of the Annunziata.
As previously mentioned, the church was part of a very ancient complex dating back to 1373 and was born as a noble chapel of the Del Balzo – d'Apia feudal lords.
The building, as it has been for centuries, took shape in 1589 with modification works, together with those carried out in the convent, radically transforming it both externally and internally, as evidenced by the roof over the entrance to the church coat of arms of the Del Balzo family. 4
An episode of absolute importance occurred in 1797: during the restoration works of the Roman catacombs, the Cervone family from Campagna, who took care of the altar dedicated to San Michele in the church, asked Pope Pius VI for permission to transfer some martyr present there. As soon as they obtained the Pope's permission, they left for Rome to take the Holy Relics of the martyr San Liberato, martyred in the 4th century due to the persecutions of Christians by the Emperor Diocletian, today placed together with the statue in the church of Santo Spirito.
On June 6, 1811, following the ministerial decree, the church turned out to be one of the two parishes present and decreed, together with that of the Cathedral of Santa Maria della Pace, with the aim of better administering the rich heritage of Campagna.
Following this episode, in 1818 the churches of Serradarce, Puglietta and Camaldoli were annexed to the Annunziata and subjected to it.
In 1908, the figurist Alfonso Metallo 5, at that time already working on other churches in the Campagna, created decorative paintings in the church. In 1927, however, the flooring was redone and three years later the bell tower needed to be rebuilt.
From 1978 to 1979 due to the interest of the Campagnase parish priest Msgr. Umberto Aiello, embellishment works were carried out on the church, unfortunately swept away the following year by the earthquake of 23 November 1980, which caused irreversible damage to the structure, so as to move the parish and ecclesial functions definitively to the church of Santo Spirito and thus decreeing the end of a multi-secular history, very important for our city.
Today the church is in disuse and deconsecrated and fully represents the historical oblivion that struck Campagna and the entire region that cursed day. Inside, still today, there is the beautiful high altar, a long-lived witness of the old glories and a symbol of hope that one day it will once again become the focal point of the city, ready to write important pages of history as in past centuries.