The Brotherhood

In 1868, following the opening of the new road that leads from the Piazza Tasso to Massa Lubrense (the current  Corso Italia), the ancient Church of St. Catello, headquarters of the Brotherhood and also dedicated to the Holy Bishop of Stabia, was demolished. The nobles of St. Catello asked the Servants of Mary to be welcomed into their home and this request was readily accepted by them, remembering the hospitality received in 1717 from the noble St. Catello Archconfraternity that too saught hospitality after 150 years. 

The San Catello Brotherhood is the oldest kind in Sorrento and still active: it was founded in 1380, after that of the "Battenti of  St. Antonino." In fact, to quote from a report of 1650 : "The Company of St. Catello  gives precedence to the Brotherhood of St. Antonino in the procession and in the funeral rites  gives precedence only to the Chapter". 

In 1586 this pious Association ,to which  only  the clergy and nobles could belong, asked for  the aggregation to the Roman Archconfraternity of  Prayer and Death and following this example, it  began to devote itself to the pious task to accompany and give Christian burial to the shipwrecked, the poor and those who were found murdered outside the city walls, for that task, they replaced the white vestments for  black ones. 

Historical sources report that on the evening of Holy Thursday the Brotherhood of St. Catello was used to " wearing the vestments and carrying lighted candles to visit the "Tombs" set up in various churches where, after worship, sermons were given to the people. At the end of this  procession and having  returned to their own church, he Brothers sat around the altar where the Prior exercised  the "Mandate", washing their feet, as  Christ had done at the Last Supper. At the end of this impressive ceremony, blessed bread was distributed to every Brother, which was then consumed by the whole family during  Easter lunch. Following the 'aggregation to the  Archconfraternity Mother of Rome, the nobility of St. Catello  wearing black vestments and holding lighted candles  went out in procession on Good Friday evening, carrying a cross between the  lance and the sponge, visiting  the various monasteries of the city  singing the "Miserere”, where  priests were giving  sermons on the Passion. Thus the custom to go out in procession on   Holy Thursday evening was abbandoned. 

Later but , we do not know when,  the image of the dead Christ and the symbols of the Passion such as the shroud, the column, the crown of thorns and the other martyrs, appeared  in order to make both the hooded participants and the people reflect on the sufferings endured by Christ. 

This kind of procession, imported from Spain in the sixteenth century, was much touted in the kingdom of Naples by the Jesuits. Then, in the 1700s,  the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows was also added to the procession. 

With the arrival in the church of the Servants of Mary, the Brothers of St. Catello tried to save what was left of the precious and antique furniture, paintings and furnishings, as well as the wooden statues of the Dead Christ, Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Catello, and whereas all the statues of saints, works of fine stucco by  famous artists such as  Vaccaro were completely destroyed. In 1869 to create harmony between the 2 Brotherhoods , it was decided that all those who became part of the Servants of Mary were automatically enrolled into the  Archconfraternity of St. Catello and of Death.

A small acknowledgement to the statue of the Dead Christ, which is greatly venerated by the Sorrentine people. 

This wooden statue of Christ lying on a cloth in the expression of painful abandon, a true work of art. We  know neither the artist, nor  the date of purchase (XVI century). 

A pious legend is that, a noble knight, unjustly accused of treason, took refuge in the Church of St. Catello seeking asylum. Accepted by them, he sculpted this work to implore God's forgiveness and the grace that was recognized in his innocence and thank the hospitality and food received. At the completion of this work, his innocence   was miraculously recognized. 

"Certainly the artist of the statue was not a fool but an artist who was inspired by the Christ of the “Pietà of Michelangelo" (De Reddig Campus). 

Another important procession organized by the Archconfraternity was that of SS. Sacramento, which was held 8 days after Corpus Christi, which the people called "the feast of the Altars." On this occasion, the inhabitants of the three districts (village, market and Sedil Dominova ),organized  three large altars with flowers and carpets of coloured sawdust. After the demolition of the church of St. Catello, this event was continued by the Cathedral parish. 

A record dating back to the period from 1604 to 1612 shows that the election of administrators took place every year on the Tuesday after Easter, that the Prior should always be a cleric and three assistants were to be two noblemen representing their "seats" while the third was to be a representative of the Place of the people.

At that time it was customary, during the Fridays of Lent, that the Brothers of St. Catello met at Vespers in the church, singing penitential psalms and, at the end, the Prior ordered  the candles to be  blown out and everyone flagellated themselves among the cries of the people who flocked there. 

In addition to the feast of St. Catello the Brotherhood organized the annual holy 40 hours, as required by the rules of the Brotherhood's Mother of  Rome. 

Even at Christmas the mystery of the Nativity was set up, miraculously,  two rare  wooden statuettes  of the 1400s, by  the brothers Alemanno were received, and are the only examples that exist today in Naples. 

Other activities that were carried out by the noble brothers were free funeral processions of the poor, the  care for the sentenced to death and  among the many charities, there was also the annual allocation of marriages for poor young  women waiting to get married. 

With the arrival in the church of the Servants of Mary, the Brotherhood of St. Catello, although to a lesser degree, carried on its life and, among its many manifestations , the procession of the dead Christ on Good Friday is still alive today.

"This choral participation which is the consciousness of common feelings and experience of suffering,  evokes different accents on the fragments of a tradition narrated by several voices, which shows primarily the temperament and not just the emotions of the people."