Monastery of the Franciscan Minors of the Conception.

The history of the monastery begins on 2 April 1594, when the archbishop of our diocese, Mons. Guarnieri, formally threw the first stone, thus starting the building works.
The choice of the place was probably conceived for two reasons, the first, to comply with the monastic regulations, i.e. that the building had to be located outside the residential nucleus, the second for the road junction that still links it with the < a href="" Target="_blank">Santuario della Madonna d'Avigliano, for the construction of the primitive monastery, it was chosen to build it around to the already present chapel dedicated to Sant'Antonio. The new structure was dedicated to the Immaculate Virgin, later known as the Immaculate Conception (which is why even today that area is called "Conception").
After just one year, the new religious complex was entrusted to the order of Franciscan monks Minori, although the works were not yet completed, works which had a completion date of around 1616.
The structure immediately had to deal with its most insidious enemy, the morphology of the ground below, in fact, even today that ground is very "slippery", as it tends to slip forward, being highly subject to landslides, a factor that always it undermined the foundations, compromising their static nature.
After the first Napoleonic suppression of 1807, a part of the structure was used as a barracks for the gendarmes, this represented the beginning of the dissipation of the substantial existing library, wickedness caused by the recklessness of certain individuals or even by the soldiers present there, who, in contempt of the enormous historical importance of the texts, they even used them to light the fire to warm up from the harsh winters.
At the beginning of 1818 the military asked to be transferred from the convent to the seminary, first due to the precariousness of the land, but also because they had probably exhausted the material stocks contained therein, so they wrote a letter to Bishop Lupoli, who strenuously opposed as the high prelate was seriously intending to open and use the same for exclusively ecclesial functions. But, at the same time, having ascertained the high geological danger denounced, it was decided to erect a 10m high support wall, capable of counteracting the landslide, an operation which, however, did not have the desired effects, so much so that Lupoli himself, eight years later, during a visit in 1826, he once again ascertained the precariousness of the land.
At the beginning of 1854, Mons. De Luca, having been solicited by the custodian of the Sacred Temple, undertook at his own expense to redo the flooring of the church, embellishing the altars of San Vito and San Diego, as well as equipping the church with a third bell, a new organ, together with a large chandelier which remained in place until the 1950s.
On December 8, 1854, the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was promulgated in the Basilica of San Pietro in Rome, at the same time, in Campagna, in the Cathedral, the Revealed Truth was announced in the presence of thousands of faithful. The strong storms of 10 September 1888 made it necessary to renovate the roof of the structure, in 1897 however, the confraternity of the Sacred Third Order of the Conception had improvements made to its oratory, located inside the church, giving a mandate to the artist Giuseppe Carretta to create the Carrara marble altar dedicated to St. Francis.
In 1907, however, the new staircase was built which led from the street below to the church, and proved to be very useful in the two-year period 1911-1912 during the Italo-Turkish war, when the structure was used as a barracks, powder magazine and partly as a prison.
The same one that during the First World War was also used as a collection of prisoners.
The same fate befell it during the Second World War, in fact, albeit for a short time, it functioned as an internment camp for Jews and for politically persecuted people after the Racial Laws were issued, thus joining another camp from Campagna in the former Dominican convent of San Bartolomeo, today Museum of Memory and Peace, initially welcomed the first prisoners who arrived in June 1940, however, due to the usual structural problems, they were all moved to the other camp.
The church will continue to function until the 1960s despite the fact that the monastery has not been in use for many years, also due to the bombings suffered by the Anglo-American forces on September 17, 1943.
The substantial end of this important place in the history of Campagna began to be decreed on 23 May 1962, when a worrying report was transcribed by the competent bodies of the State Geological Office and by the Civil Engineers, who definitively evinced the latent stability of the land, which did not allow the restructuring of the place and this passage indelibly marked the definitive condemnation. All of this marked an era of abandonment, marked by the pious transit of its most important defender, Mons . Giuseppe Maria Palatucci, undoubtedly linked to that post.
In 1987, punctual, inexorable, came the announced death of the monastery of the Conception. On a sad night for the history of Campagna, the wall erected in 1818 collapsed, invading the street below which only by a miracle did not cause damage to people or things, on that same night, in addition to the wall, what remained intact. Today the structure, after redevelopment and restructuring works, is used as a social gathering center, immersed in the last and melancholy ruins of the church and monastery.

Text edited by Cristian Viglione.

1. Valentino Izzo - Telling the Countryside...Religious factories. - VOL. M - p. 213 - year 2004


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