Carafa Chapel (San Tommaso d’Aquino)

The Dominican cardinal Oliviero Carafa (1430 - 1511), who gives his name to this chapel, devoted such admiration and devotion to the great dominican Saint Thomas Aquinas (1224 - 1274), that he built and decorated in his honour this splendid chapel by the famous Filippino Lippi, on the advice of Lorenzo the Magnificent.

Four veils are painted on the vault in which four sibyls are represented. The escutcheon in the centre represents the weapons of the Carafa family. On the centre wall, in the scene of the Annunciation, the figure of Saint Thomas presents cardinal Carafa to the Virgin Mary. At the top, there is the image of the assumption of the Virgin Mary and a crown of angels who seem to dance around her, each holding a different musical instrument. We are faced with a sort of inventory of musical instruments of the time. However on the right wall, there are different scenes from the life of Saint Thomas. The left painting  represents the miracle of the Crucified One who says to Saint Thomas: "you have written well about me Thomas, what reward do you want? ".  And he would have answered: "Nothing other than the Lord".

Saint Thomas on a throne,  is represented in the lower part,  holding in his hand a book in which is written: "Sapientiam sapientum perdam", which means " I will destroy the wisdom of the wise ", sentence taken from the writings of Saint Paul. Before him there is a figure of a nasty person who represents the sin with a sign that reads: "Sapientia vincit malitiam", "Wisdom conquers evil".  This is a clear allusion to the Dominican spirituality, always characterized by a search for the truth and a fight to vice and error. Saint Thomas is surrounded by four female figures that represent philosophy, theology, dialectic and grammar.

The frescoes of the left wall, representing the vices and virtues were destroyed to make way for the tomb of Pope Paul IV, one of the five Popes buried in this Basilica.

The marbles, the decor, the grottesche, and all the details of the chapel, are today genuine jewels to discover and admire.