The Catacombs of Saint Gaudiosus Naples
The basilica of Santa Maria della Sanità (commonly known as the ‘Church of San Vincenzo’ or ‘of the Monacone’) gives access to the tomb of the African saint San Gaudioso. The catacomb takes its name from the African bishop, who arrived in Naples in the 5th century A.D. The oldest image of the Virgin Mary existing in Naples was found in the sixteenth century inside this early Christian crypt; dated to the 5th-6th century it is now displayed in the basilica. The distinctive feature of the Catacombs of San Gaudioso are the famous cantarelle, the underground areas fitted with seats dug into the tuff with a vessel placed beneath, within which noble corpses were left until they had been drained of liquid and had dried out completely. At the end of this ‘preparation’ process, the skulls of the dead were set into the walls of the central ambulacrum and can still be viewed by visitors today.