Santa Maria della Misericordia ai Vergini. A treasure re-emerged in the heart of Napoli.

Visiting the church of Santa Maria della Misericordia ai Vergini, better known as Misericordiella, you can admire the remains of a church from the 18th century.

Each step down is a step back in time. Hundreds of steps and you reach the premises of the 16th century. But that’s not all. If you go even further down you will arrive at the structure of the 1300s. Due to the floods of 16th century the ancient church was completely covered with mud.

After the flood, the situation was so difficult that they thought of building on top of the old rubble.

Thus it was an oratory, then a hospital, until 1700. The space below was used as a crypt.

Left to itself, then destroyed by calamities and bombings and thus abandoned again for too long.

Until the Neapolitan artist Christian Leperino, through the SMMAVE, with the participation of the community, and thanks to the Archconfraternity, which took possession of it in 2015, began to bring this immense heritage back to light.

In a very complex neighborhood, for about 10 years now, Christian has had an artist’s vision: tranforming a place of the community, which belongs to the people but is abandoned to itself, into a center of artistic production where hundreds of students and children get to know “making art” through art, through sculpture and other activities.

CL: “It is the Neapolitan experience of having a bottega (laboratory – shop), where the workers work through creativity and under the pretext of beauty, art and though being together.”

SMMAVE, of which Christian is president, is a non-profit association. It supports itself thanks to its members and through donations.

Thanks to SMMAVE, today the Misericordiella is an open place that Christian defines as a cultural laboratory. Therefore it is not intended as a place where works are museumized.

Dynamic art is experienced there. It is a laboratory, a creative workshop in the area, for young and older children who can take advantage of Christian experience as an artist but also that of others who collaborate with him. And through art, the space is finally given back to the community.

Why Misericordiella?

CL: “Because it is a beautiful place where great artists have worked but it is a place that has been very degraded. They threw everything there.”

Christian proposed the project to the church of Napoli to manage this place to clean it up and reorganize it. Thanks also to the Archconfraternity, they managed to restore a good part of the church that can now be visited.

There is a great effort on the part of some Neapolitan institutions such as the archaeological museum, which has just launched a path called Extra MANN.

In this project he has identified the places that are managed by associations and put them on the net. This allows spaces that were previously closed to be active now. There are workshops at the Madre (Donnaregina Contemporary Art Museum) and this year also at The Academy of Fine Arts where he also teaches.

Among the many, a workshop experience for children who learn how to work materials that the artist defines as warm, such as wood and clay, is highly appreciated. A simple but thrilling experience that includes a visit to the Misericordiella and the laboratory up to the MANN to get to know and admire the inspiring Il Sogno dell’Eroe (The Dream of The Hero).

Working with the kids who grew up on screen in this era is a challenge.

CL: “We work with warm materials such as wood, clay, plaster, ceramic. Materials that need to get your hands dirty to work them, you need to achieve elasticity and dexterity. Which is no longer so familiar for the new generations. They are used to the flat screen tablet but this gives them a sense of depth. They are forced to deal with times, expectations and processes to which, with new technologies, they are not used to. The touch, the temperature, getting dirty with plaster, feeling the wood … This experience makes them lively. If returned in the right way, this experience has a great value of possibility for the new generations. “


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