During the conflicts between the people of Angevins and Aragonese, in 1284 Charles II of Anjou was defeated by Admiral Roger of Lauria and imprisoned in Sicily. Sentenced to death by beheading, Charles had no choice but to pray to the two saints to whom he was most devoted: St. Nicholas and Mary Magdalene. After a night of prayer, the next morning the sentence was commuted to prison. Charles was so grateful to his saviors that, having been freed and returned to Naples three years later, he chose the Basilica of Saint Nicholas as his “royal chapel”, inspired by the Saint Chappelle of the French kings. Then, so that the Basilica would be worthy of such a prestigious investiture, he sent numerous gifts to the Nicolaian Citadel, mainly reliquaries of exceptional rarity and incredible artistic and devotional value.
Among these, Charles gave one containing a tooth of Mary Magdalene to seal his devotion. The reliquary has the shape of a golden angel holding a glass ampoule on which is placed a silver cross. The Saint’s tooth is kept inside the ampoule, which according to an inventory dates back to 1294: if this information is correct, the reliquary of Mary Magdalene was the first gift sent by Charles to the Nicolaian Citadel.
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