The church

The Sanctuary was erected on a tract of land located above the convent of San Nicola, donated to the religious class by the Senate of the Republic (6.8.1641). In that zone, there was already an old chapel dedicated to Saint James that Fr. Carlo Giacinto had restored in 1689, with the beautiful statue the Blessed Virgin Mary with the child Jesus in her arms. It had been donated by Isabella Moneglia, wife of the Senator ParideSalvago. The image was carved in alabaster and delicately decorated by Giovanni Romano (Trapani, XVII century); it was affectionately called “La Madonetta”. She was crowned four times (August 14, 1692 , August 14, 1693, December 25, 1700, June 27, 1920). Numerous faithful immediately flocked to the place from the town and suburbs that the founder decided to speed up the construction. chi int 02
    Many years before, he had had an amazing vision in the internal chapel of the novice house: One day, during the evening mental prayer, he had seen a temple consecrated to the Great Mother of God. There were altars and sacred images to adorn it, but above all, the image of Mary in theinternal chamber (scurolo) as it is now. In front of the image there was a big crowd. People seemed to have their eyes like rivers of water as they shed tears. Under the church there was a devoted representation of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and of Our Lady. I had seen great things in that small place: graces, privileges, help and favors which the divine Mother would intercede for the faithful (Relation of Temple).
    This was the project which inspired the architect Anton Maria Ricca. He translated it faithfully by developing a personalized conception of a unique church, a model to which other architects would look at as the ideal archetype in Liguria in the 18th century (Arenzano, Bogliasco, Sori, Casella, Larvego…). The construction started in May 4, 1695 and it was opened to the public in August 15, 1696. The same day, with the decree of the Senate of the Republic solicited by Fr. Carlo Giacinto, the city of Genova was consecrated to Mary in a solemn ceremony in the Cathedral of St. Lawrence. To emphasize the spiritual connection of the Madonna to the city of Genoa, he placed in the apse a wooden statue of the Blessed Virgin blessing the city. In April 18 1706, Msgr. Giambattista Costa, in behalf of the Archbishop of Genoa Card. Lorenzo Fieschi, consecrated the temple dedicating it to the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Mother of God, Immaculate Virgin, Assumed into heaven and Queen of the angels and saints.chiesa altare
    The founder wanted that the Sanctuary as a whole and in its minute details would provide a rigorous and immediate reading of the Christian mystery. For this reason, dedicating the church to the Assumption, he disposed the numerous relics of saints and martyrs, mostly coming from the roman catacombs, in the walls of the oval, in the wall of the main altar and under the table of the main altar so that it would resemble to a celestial hall, where the angels and saints are glorifying Mary. Furthermore, he stressed the specific purpose of the Sanctuary - The Divine Mercy who forgives sinners - with the wooden crucifix in the main altar and two splendid Pietà: one in the entrance square, the other in the chapel under the main hall. This specific spirituality of the Sanctuary is illustrated not only by the ingenuity of the architect and the artist but also by the hundreds of biblical inscriptions, wisely located everywhere, that constitute a unique example of a didactical purpose. The architectonical complex, in some decades, has been decorated and enriched with numerous valuable works of art.
    The Sanctuary immediately became the center of religious life and a traditional destination of pilgrims from the city and suburbs of Genoa, from the Riviere Liguri, from Piemonte and Lombardy. It was attested by the numerous privileges given by the popes: Clemente XI, Innocenzo XIII and Pio VI who aggregated the “Madonnetta” to the Basilica of Lateran with the same privilege and indulgence (7.12.1777). In 1712, the Senate established that the Sunday after the Assumption an official delegation from the Republic of Genoa, composed of four senators from the most prestigious families, should assist the solemn mass for the consecration of the city to the Madonnetta while the artillery of Molo should fire forty times as a sign of greeting and feast. 300px Madonnetta02 sagrato
    The Sanctuary was also visited by illustrious personalities. In 1818, Vittorio Emmanuel I did a pilgrimage with his wife Maria Teresa di Savoia; in 1829, the widowed queen returned to the Sanctuary with her daughters: Maria, the future empress of Austria and the venerable Maria Cristina, the future queen of Naples. Some founders of religious congregations had also strong spiritual connection with “Madonnetta”: the venerable Solimani, founder of the Battistine (1725); Saint Paola Frassinetti founder of the Dorotee; Mother Eugenia Ravasco, founder of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart; the venerable Giuseppe Frassinetti founder of the Sons of Mary; Mother Anna Maria Castello, founder of the Pietrine sisters. Not to mention the foundation of the Newspaper “Il Cittadino (30.9.1873) by Fr. Persoglio SJ. When the Italian government suppressed the Sanctuary and the convent, the Senator Giuseppe Cataldi redeemed it, allowing the religious to continue their communitarian life using the ecclesiastical cassock waiting for better time.
    Many devotees desired to be buried near the Sanctuary in the common sepulcher or in noble tombs (Doria, Balbi, Negrone, Durazzo, Lomellini, Centurione, Brignole Sale, Invrea, Grimaldi, Spinola, Cambiaso, Raggio, Della Gatta, De Rica, Sacco…). The most illustrious were: Fr. Carlo Giacinto, the architect Anton Maria Ricca who became a discalced  Augustinian with the religious name Marino of the Assumption, the Duke Gerolamo Durazzo, the Admiral Giorgio De Geneys, Francesco Sivori and Luigi Giaime of Pralognano, the Mayor Luigi Moro, the mathematician Ambrogio Multedo, the ambassador of the republic to Vienna Gerolamo Serra, the Senator Giuseppe Cataldi and some of his descendants.