It is a museum designed to give a unique and urepeatable emotion in the province of Caserta. An emotion connected to a Saint that is not so saint, since he is an angel. Actually an archangel. Michele, “who is like God?”, according to his name meaning.
It is the only museum of the territory having a collection of jewelry and valuables; the ex-voto belonging to the shrine of St. Michele. An archangel celebrated in Maddaloni on the day of his apparition on the Gargano, 8th May, according to the Lombard. Maddaloni has recognised him for a millennium in the shrine on the mountain.
But the treasure of the shrine is the latest discovery placed at the end the itinerary. The other rooms are dedicated to a journey through the history of an industrious city, in which, for example, Baroque ceramics has found craftsmen capable of great beauty between 1600 and 1800.
The history of such an ancient city began speaking Etruscan and Samnite language of Calatia, remembered with architectural objects and grave goods. It is a museum that brings the city inside its itinerary to enhance the masterpieces of sculpture and painting of the 18th century (Solimena, Sammartino) by integrating them with devotional or local works. The building that hosts the museum and the nearby church of Santa Maria dei Raccomandati tell the history of charity and assistance.
In fact, this church was founded as the seat of the Confraternity of Flappers who were used to helping. Here the statutes of rules, considered as the oldest and complete text in old Italian preserved in the province of Caserta, was written 700 years ago.
The museum is placed in the monastic complex of Santa Maria de Commendatis. In 1560 Diomede Carafa, first Duke of Maddaloni, left a legacy of three thousand ducats to found and maintain a hospital. His wife Roberta realized it, adding an adjacent church and Confraternity. This initiative did not have the favour of citizenship, therefore the hospital never experienced its development as desired. In 1660 the Duchess Antonia Caracciolo settled a nunnery in the service of the hospital too.
Removed in 1867, the monastery remained at the expense of Comune with the obigation to maintain the nuns. In 1912 the Comune became the owner of it. The church is not included in the itinerary. On the right of the atrium there is the room dedicated to the Confraternity, painted in 1720-30 and repainted in 1928 (original canvas of the Assumption). The single eighteenth-century nave has a grouted and painted vault – remakes made in 1860 -, chapels and altars, a marvellous organ, the wooden golden choir from 1720-1750 and several majolica floors from 1600 to 1800. Frescoes on the Gothic lunette of the gateway – with hooded flappers – and of the crucifixion – nuns’ choir – remind us of the medieval foundation.
The archaeological room exhibits finds from the necropolis and the urban area of Calatia – Delli Paoli’s collection and other donations – dated back to 8th century BC until the Imperial era. Calatia had relationships with Etruscans, Magna Grecia, towns of the Caudina and Telesina valley – such as Suessola and Atella – and obviously with Capua too. Differences between objects from these towns, particularly vases, lead us to assume the local production, exemplified by a sort of amphora called “Calatia type”.
The Orientalizing finds from about 8th or the beginning of 6th century BC come from burials including rich and various grave goods: local pottery, fine ceramics and imported objects, personal ornaments made of metal – like bracelets, chains, plait pins, digital rings, cosmetic tools, still and bronze fibulae – things that report the social status of the dead and their role in society. There are also some imported Magno-Greek ceramics made by Cumans, such as the two oinochoais from the 7th century (labelled 119 and 120) and others Italo-geometrical always from the 7th century, like the plate with herons 125 from Caere and Veio. The next step (6° – 5° sec. BC) is documented by two archaic ceramic jugs and by some vases in bucchero, typical residue of the Etruscan influence predominant from the 7th century BC An askos from the end of the 6th century is exhibited too with a pearled metallic patina.
Interesting is the fragmented hydria with red figures from the second half of the 4th century BC. A pearled patera belongs to the Gruppo dei Piccoli Stampi (280-250 BC), by virtue of the imprinted mark at the centre. Numerous are the votive statuettes made of terracotta representing male figures like warriors and female ones – created with molds – similar to the statuettes placed in the shrines of Capua’s and Teano’s areas (4th-2nd century BC). Coins, some oil lamps, cinerary urns, sea amphorae used perhaps for garum or grani (1st-3rd century AD), fragments of vases in sealed and remains of mosaics, stucco and plaster covered with necropolis places on the Appian way and with its urban environment, all these objects are from the Roman era. The room exhibits also the reconstruction of a female tomb with all its relics.
The Hall of the City shows the historical stratification of Maddaloni thanks to three cartographic panels. Below medieval fragments are exhibited: two blocks in tuff carved with interwined arches from Santa Margherita and two tiles of which one has the coat of arms of the Anjou family from Annunziata. The wooden polychrome statues come from local chruches and represent the Madonna del Soccorso dated back to 1570, San Giuseppe, San Gioacchino e Pietà dated back to the Eighteenth century, San Rocco e San Domenico dated back to the first decades of 1800.
The room dedicated to the majolica tells the history of pottery in Maddaloni. Nestled against the hill, two residential areas are still called “caves” and “pignatari” since they were historically the place of production of pottery. This activity has been known since the Sixteenth century thanks to Pompeo de Core.
Important ceramics households were the Mastroiannis, the Pardos and the Massas – known for some works in the Kingdom of Naples till the first years of 1800, particularly for the production of floors (riggiole). Typical was the decoration: almost always white background with floral pattern coloured with yellow ochre, light blue and green, rarely with red. Wonderful is the panel of the majolica altar with Santa Caterina and the martyr symbols (Pardo, 1713, from the chapel of the Marrocchis). In Maddaloni, during the first decades of 1600, Pompeo Landolfo and Orazio de Carluccio left some of their works in the local churches. The room exhibits some majolica and the Madonna della Misericordia (1611, from the church of Commendatis) belonging to another area, different from the above-mentioned painters’ one. The Annunciation – given to Francesco Solimena – and Santa Caterina – given to Ludovico De Majo, active from 1720 to 1760 – come from from the chapel of the Marrocchis.
The room dedicated to San Michele exhibits part of the treasury of votive objects in gold, silver and coral donated by grace to the Shrine of San Michele, placed on the hill that overlooks the city. There are some jewelry like earings, bracelets, watches, necklaces, rings (1860 – 1930) and traditional anthropomorphic silver plates used for healing arms, hands, eyes, bodies, heart and head. This room exhibits two marvellous marble angels given to Giuseppe Sammartino (1754, from the church of the Confraternity of San Giovanni Battista).
The conference room exhibits the painting with Sant’Antonio abate from the homonymous chapel and dated back to the end of 18th century and the mechanical body of the civil clock (Caccialupi, 1869).
Italian text: Pietro Di Lorenzo / translated by Denise Kendall-Jones (2020)