A convent of Poor Clares was active on the island of Ischia from 1577 to 1809.
The founder was called Beatrice Quadra and was a Neapolitan noblewoman who, widowed, wanted to find consolation for her pain by dedicating her life to prayer and meditation. The convent was built inside the fortress that constitutes the Aragonese Castle, reachable from Ischia Ponte; it was active for over two centuries and was dismantled at the beginning of the nineteenth century following the enactment of a law, wanted by Gioacchino Murat, through which, in perfect Napoleonic style, all religious orders of the Kingdom of Naples were suppressed.
Today the Convent of the Poor Clares, with the adjoining Church of the Immaculate Conception, is one of the historical places of Ischia and it is possible to visit it.
Just below the church is the place where the nuns were buried.
The cemetery of the Poor Clares consists of a dismal room carved into the rock in which there are a series of holes. The nuns were not buried, the bodies were placed in an upright position to decompose. The holes in the vicinity formed the drains where the moods and sewage from the decomposed bodies were collected and stored in special amphorae. Every day the nuns went to the underground room to pray and meditate on the transience of the flesh and death; sometimes deriving from the environment unhealthy diseases that would have caused them to die.
This custom was continued for decades until the convent was closed, when the bodies were finally moved to the cemetery of Ischia.
From 18 April 2019 a splendid installation of contemporary art by Franco Lanci called the 16 Poor Clares is on display in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
The sound of dripping water, alternating with the sound of Lux Aeterna by György Ligeti, brings back to the original burial practice, in the collection vessels placed in front of the natural format image of each Clarissa small colored fish swim.
Pictures on the wall
Photo & Design: paolo_bianchi
Papers: Espon Mate