The art

The Santuary is also a point of central reference for the Genoese artistic history because it was considered as a prototype of the churches of Liguria in 1700. However, the architecture distinguished himself above all for its mystical symbols that in a wonderful way translated the beauty and the presence of God. The structure of the Sanctuary is octagonal, a variation of the Baroqueellipse. Alongside the octagon there are six arcs and chapels in the corresponding doorways.


From the central hall, the presbytery and the choir, slightly narrow but deep to which an access is provided using the lateral stairs connected to a balustrade. In the space underneath, marked by a beautiful entrance in the “scurolo” or chapel of the Madonna through a wide and ample stairway. Each one of the three stairways has fifteen steps which refers to the temple of Jerusalem where the pilgrims climb while singing the fifteen psalms. The descending stairway and the two ascending stairways refer to the itinerary of the Christian conversion to God: first of all it is the humility of heart, then the new life. It reminds us about the marble scroll in the entrance of the crypt: He converted the rock of the sinners to a fountain of grace (Psalm 113) and the famous text of Saint Augustine: o man, if you want to go up, you should go down; you, who wanted to go up, went down (Confession 4, 12, 19).
    convertit rupemThe chapel of the Madonna is naturally the intimate center of the Sanctuary; in fact the architectural development of the church is like a great arm extending to the altar embracing the chapel of the Madonnetta. It is also octagonal in the form and repeats in miniature the line and decoration of the main hall. The octagonal line is unique of this church wanted by the Virgin Mary for the spiritual resurrection of her pilgrims. The number eight for Christians is a symbol for the resurrection of Jesus as He was resurrected on the eighth day; even in the platform of the altar there is a star with eight rays representing the risen Christ.


    The pavement of the church is of a radial shape, designed by Francesco Schiaffino in white and gray, converging in the center of the octagonal roof light elegantly molded where the “Pietà” of Anton Maria Maragliano is located in a little chapel decorated with symbols of the Passion. The wall of the Sancturary has twenty oval medallions as recipient of the holy relics, coated with gold plaster by Lavarello. The number of relics kept in the Sanctuary is more than twenty thousand: it is a record and of priceless value. Above is a dome that has autonomous sense of decorative space: on it a nude vault lighted by the oval windows.
    Above the entrance is the pipe Organ  constructed by Lorenzo Roccagliata (1773) and Carlo Giuliani (1844) in double keyboard with pedals and forty entries. The casing is from the convent of Albisola Superiore while the chorus was sculpted by De Negri. Recently it was renovated and solemnly inaugurated.  


    Six pieces are located in the lateral altars, constructed by Carlo De Marchi (1773): Madonna della Cintura with the Augustinian saints, Jesus and the mother of Saint James and John (G.B. Paggi, 1600), Annunciazione (Giuseppe Galeotti, 1738), Immuculate (B. Guidobono, 1600), Crucifixion (Giovanni Raffele Badaracco, 1600), Madonna del Parto (attributed to B. Guidobono). The main altar is the work of D. Stella in 1715, surmounted by the wooden Crocifisso of Cambiaggio in 1600,  protected by a canopy coated with gold; it was a gift to the founder in 1763. On the sides of the altars there are cases of relics by NicolòPantano, 1715. At the summit of the apse is the reigning wooden statue of the Madonna, the queen of Genoa by Dominico Bissone, 1500; underneath is the magnificent wooden Chorus engraved with symbols of Marian litany by Francesco Parodi, 1868.


    The decoration in the chapel of Madonna is much more rich. The marble altar, adorned by “ciborio” and surmounted by delicate small temple over the four spiral columns of alabaster by F. Quadro, Gaggini and F. Schiaffino. In the vault and interior of the chapel is the fresco of Guidobono: The Glorification of the Assumption (1697) while the walls are covered with marble and adorned with six medallions of relics.


The statue of the Madonnetta is decorated with friezes in gold from Trapani and a replica of the Madonna venerated in that city (G. Romano, 1600). It was brought to Genoa in 1686 by a merchant of Savona, G.B. Cantone, as gift to Fr. Carlo Giacinto from Isabella Moneglia Salvago after her mother Eugenia’s death. The external part of the church was adorned only in the entrance by wall painting but it is now faded along the passage of time. At the end of the square, there is a contorted Pietà covered by a mosaic of marine white and black stones (D. Parodi, 1700). The art of the Madonna not only expressed the sentiment of the artist but also the soul of Fr. Carlo Giacinto and an announcement of the particular presence of the Divine  Mercy of God and Mary.