Built on the site of a Roman temple to the fertility goddess Ceres, the 16th-century church of San Gregorio owes its unflagging popularity to the cult of Santa Patrizia, whose relics are conserved here and whose blood allegedly liquefies not only on her feast day (25 August), when impressive celebrations are held, but also every Tuesday.
Patrizia might well have been Naples' patron saint, had the closed order of nuns that brought her relics from her native Constantinople in the eighth century not kept them secret. For many years only women were allowed to see them, but they are now on view to all in a chapel to the right of the altar. The church is preceded by a porticoed vestibule, and the interior is rich with Neapolitan Baroque. There are paintings and frescoes by Luca Giordano and Paolo de Matteis, and a fine 17th-century marble altar by Dionisio Lazzari.
To reach the adjacent convent and cloisters, continue up Via San Gregorio, under the arch, and turn left into Via Maffei; press the intercom at the first gate on the left. Still visible by the entrance are the bronze drums through which supplies were passed to the nuns. The cloisters, with their orange trees and pretty fountain, provide a tranquil refuge.