St. Francis Xavier’s Chapel was commissioned by the Orsettis and finished in 1710. Its front façade features the bust of Francesco Saverio, known historically as the ‘protector’ of missionaries and tourists. The chapel was largely abandoned during the time when the Villa Reale estate belonged to the state, and was returned to use by the princes of Capua, subsequently becoming the burial place for both the Bourbon-Capua and Pecci-Blunt families.
Dominating the interior of the chapel is a work by the Carrara sculptor Alessandro Lazzerini, which was rejected by the Marlia parish church due to its huge size. The imposing sepulchral monument, commemorating the Bourbon-Capua princes, depicts the deceased princess Penelope accompanied by ‘charity’ – represented by a young woman with a child, and a cherub holding an unlit torch. A little higher up, the figures of ‘faith’ and ‘hope’ frame the Bourbon family coat of arms while a full statue of Cardinal Ferdinando in his Neapolitan admiral’s uniform complete the cenotaph.
The new owners of the Villa Reale estate have decided to commission restoration works to the façade and the roof starting in 2017, in order to preserve the ancient chapel.