Church and convent of San Bartolomeo

The history of the convent of San Bartolomeo begins in 1259 when some Dominican friars reached Campagna to preach the Holy Gospel. Welcomed with warmth and honor by the inhabitants of the time, they asked and obtained permission from the castellan to be able to settle permanently in these places and live in poor haystacks, a district later called Pagliara, which was located close to the farmhouses bordering the Castello Gerione.
The purpose of the friars, right from the start, was to give spiritual relief to the people of Campagna. Their history and their link with Campagna, albeit indirectly, certainly begins in 1228 (but we can certainly assert that it was present there before), the year in which the church of Santa Maria appears for the first time in an official document. Mary. This once stood where the Church of San Bartolomeo currently stands and here there was a small oval-shaped church-cemetery, mainly used as a burial place for noble Campagnasi, as it appears from various local historiographers and from the sepulchres erected for illustrious men, famous in the arts and sciences. It is precisely in this church that since 1277 the friars had owned a cenoby, as the historian from Campagna Rivelli wrote.

Over the decades, the Temple began to lose its former importance in favor of the expansion of the districts that were further downstream from the Gerione castle, such as the districts of Zappino, Trinità and Giudeca. The priests therefore began to no longer frequent it as in the past, having at their disposal more comfortable churches that had sprung up in the meantime, located even closer to their families. The decline was strengthened when there was a substantial abandonment of the accounts of Campagna.
Example above all, when the spouses Del Balzo - D'Apia moved from the Gerione castle to their palace built in front of the church of the time Santa Maria della Giudeca. In 1400 the definitive abandonment was ratified. The church remained with only one priest and, for this reason, the Dominicans repeatedly asked for it to be used in order to be able to build a large cenoby next to it, closer to the population who, in the meantime, had moved away from the ancient farmhouses and the Castle.
In 1437, Count Francesco Orsini, under whose rule a war was fought against Eboli which ended in 1457 with the victory of the Campagnasi, erected the countryside of Campagna and the Dominicans turned to him to plead with Pope Eugene IV the request and obtain the Church of San Bartolomeo, building an imposing convent on the old, never completed cenoby. Only in 1449 did Pope Nicholas V give the convent erection bull: thus began the work by demolishing the ancient buildings in order to give rise to the current church and the imposing and majestic Monastery, entrusting the direction of the works to Pietro Viviani and Giacomo De Chiara.

On this was built, with the authorization and the economic help of the feudal lord of the time, the church of San Bartolomeo, located in a more comfortable area than the other churches and an obligatory passage for the inhabitants present, equipped with a large and fertile plot of land. Between 1571 and 1572 Giordano Bruno completed his novitiate there. The convent became the seat of the General Study, today's university that dealt with philosophical, literary and theological studies for the local nobility. Among his students were Marco Fileta Filiuli, Giovanni Antonio De Nigris and Giulio Cesare Capaccio. In 1712 the PP. Dominicans restored the Church and embellished the wooden ceiling, entirely decorated with pure gold inlaid and carved with large floral scrolls and coat of arms with the inscription: "ANNO REPARATAE SALUTIS MDCCXIII".
The friars worked tirelessly and took care of it until the unification of Italy. From 1878 to 1927 the convent was used by the Military District of Campagna as a barracks while the church remained as a parish. Between 1940 and 1943 the structure was used as an internment camp, today the Itinerary of Memory and Peace Museum - Giovanni Palatucci Study Center, for about 369 English and French prisoners, Italian Jews, foreign Jews, stateless persons, Germans, Austrians, Poles , Rijekas, Czechoslovakians and Yugoslavs.

The church has a Latin cross shape with a facade with two stone portals: the main one and on the right that of the oratory of the confraternity of the SS. Rosary. The interior consists of a rectangular room with two side chapels, a square apse defined by a round arch and covered by a cross vault devoid of any decorative element. The hall is adorned with four aediculae with eighteenth-century style stuccos. The left chapel has nineteenth-century stuccos and an altar above which rises a niche with marble, dated 1815, in which the statue of the Madonna is placed. The wooden altar, on the other hand, is a work from the 17th century which houses the veiled crucifix called SS. Name of God.
The Veiled Christ present in the church has very ancient origins. Nicolò de Nigris, a countryside historian of the past, told of Giorgio Iorio, a hermit who in the year 1236 went to a cave and to pay homage and contemplate the passion of Christ, sculpted - even if inexperienced - a head of the dying Jesus, managing to give the face a suggestive expression of pain but at the same time also serenity, still astounding those who admire it.
Over the following years, probably after the news had spread among the populations, it was also the object of disfigurement and disputes: it is still said that a group of criminals originally from the Alburni mountains was determined to take possession of it and, having in the ancient and primordial church of Santa Maria, not finding the sculpture, he disfigured the crucifix present, decapitating its head and hiding it under the church of San Francesco in nearby Eboli.
The Crucifix remained in that state for many years and only in 1387 did the prior of the time of the Dominican friars decide to place the sculpted head of the hermit on the body of the desecrated statue. To the general astonishment of those present, this remained perfectly fixed, as if it had been specially designed for the sacred effigy, so much so as to immediately exclaim the miracle.
Another event to be counted in the glorious history of the crucifix is ​​linked to the visit of San Berardino of Siena to Campagna to quell the internal diatribes of the Campagnan orders. Brought before him, San Bernardino was so struck by its majesty that he lost consciousness. Once recovered upon his awakening he exclaimed the word "Most Holy Name of God!", asking those present that from that moment on he was venerated with that name.
He also gave orders to dress him in red, thus making him a very rare Italian example of a Spanish-style depiction of Jesus but still very different and more suggestive from the more canonical depictions present in our areas. The SS. Name of God is a saint much revered and felt by the people of Campagna and by the inhabitants of neighboring municipalities.
The venerations dedicated to him are every Friday of the week and he is carried in procession every seven years or for invocation of grace linked to atmospheric calamities, such as extreme drought or abundant rains.

Texts extracted and reworked from the publications and researches of the late prof. Carmine Vivone, our thoughts and thanks go to dear Carmine for what he did in his earthly experience.
Text edited by Cristian Viglione.
Revisions: Francesco Pezzuti.


Trailer of the second episode of the format "Pleasure, Campaign." concerning the church and the convent.

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