"Miracle" at the Fontanelle Cemetery? Jul 19, 2007 11:38:35 GMT -5
Post by NeandertalMan on Jul 19, 2007 11:38:35 GMT -5
Posted by Larry Ray July 18, 2007
Regular readers of this English Language version of Napoliunderground.com will be aware of the numerous articles we have posted over the years about the famous Neapolitan cult cemetery where the bones of hundreds of thousands of victims of various plagues and diseases over the centuries are displayed. Individual remains were
'adopted' by the faithful who polished up the skulls, and some even built little altar-like boxes for them. They visited their adopted early departed, and offered prayers to give them a little boost from their ignoble deaths out of purgatory and on to heaven. After being closed for many years, the huge underground cemetery was recently cleaned up. The skulls and bones were dusted off and huge walls of neatly stacked remains were rearranged.
Recently the Municipal Government has once again opened the macabre caverns to the public, and it was during one of the guided tours a few days ago that a 30 year old man, Antonio Festa, snapped numerous photographs of the amazing sights he saw inside. When he had the film developed, Festa said the "face of Christ appeared" superimposed on a shot of the statue of Father Gaetano Barbati that he had taken. It was Barbati, who in 1872 had the hodge podge collection of bodies disinterred and catalogued. The bones remained on the surface and were piled neatly on tall wooden racks in the sandstone cave, marking the beginning the the Fontanelle Cemetery cult of the dead.
Festa announced his discovery of "the miracle apparition" and organized a procession of the faithful, leading the group and carrying an grainy enlargement of his miracle snapshot. He said, "It is the face of Christ, without a doubt!" A group of the faithful gathered and offered prayers at the base of the statue.
Skeptics, including engineer Clemente Esposito, whose recent scholarly book on the history of the Fontanelle Cemetery, were less enthusiastic. Esposito's comment was to the point, "the photo is a fake." This translator, a native of South Texas, is familiar with all sorts of miraculous perceived apparitions usually discovered by faithful Mexicans who from time to time see the Virgin Mary's face clearly burned into a tortilla as it is flipped on the baking pan, or perhaps in the screen wire of a door. Another face of the BVM is said to have appeared in a toasted pattern on a large potato chip. This was my first knowledge, however of a "Kodak Moment" appearance in an underground cemetery . . .
Our colleague and Naples expert, Professor Jeff Matthews, has a great article on the Fontanelle Cemetery in his wonderful online "Naples Encyclopedia," at:
by Napoli Underground