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Post Savona's Marian Apparition of 1536: Salvation of a City
Created by John Eipper on 04/14/23 3:05 AM

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Savona's Marian Apparition of 1536: Salvation of a City (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 04/14/23 3:05 am)

Our esteemed editor asked for details on the Marian Apparition in Savona, 1536.

The Virgin Mary appeared during the worst period in Savona's history. Savona chose the wrong ally in its war against Genoa. In 1536 it was defeated and the core of its history was wiped out, including the old town of the Priamar including its beautiful Cathedral, already 700 years old (some even say that the Cathedral of Genoa of 1118 was a copy), the Town Hall, other churches and residences. It is easy to realize how the surviving population felt.

The Rock of the Priamar (probably an island later connected to the mainland, similar to the the town of Ragusa/Dubrovnik) in 1542-44 was completely transformed into a huge fortress, while the port was completely destroyed and filled in with earth.

The first inhabitants, the Ligurian Sabazi, settled on the Priamar probably around 1600 BCE. From this favorable position which included a sheltered port, Savona developed and then expanded inland.

The first defeat from Genoa, allied with Rome, was in 205 BCE, when Savona sided with the Carthaginian Magone (Mago Barca), brother of Hannibal.  In spite of conquest and destruction by the invading Lombards, the town in 641 resurrected as a County Seat within the Regnum Italicum of the Carolingian Empire. For a long time it had to face the Saracens' incursions, but on 11 April 1191 Savona became a free Comune and a Sea Republic, like other Italian towns, and again rekindled its rivalry with Genoa. Two famous Popes came from Savona, Sisto IV (1471-1484) and Giulio II (1503-1513, protector of Michelangelo and Raffaello). But in 1494 the bad period of Italy started with devastating invasions from France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire. Savona, which sided with France in 1528, was completely defeated and occupied by Genoa, which instead sided with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor of the Habsburg.

The Virgin Mary appeared to the peasant Antonio Botta on 18 March 1536, on the Letimbro river 5 KM from Savona. Botta was immediately believed by the Bishop and by the Savonese. She appeared again on 8 April and then again to a procession of people coming to the site of the apparition from the city center.

Her main message, among other recommendations, was: "Mercy, not Justice." This was the right message to soothe the broken-hearted Savonese, who from that moment started to recover from their desperation.

A great devotion, still existing, developed, and a great beautiful Sanctuary, on three levels including the crypt, was immediately planned and constructed with an attached hospice for the poor, still in place. These Apparitions started the revival of Savona.

I was married inside the beautiful Crypt.

Herewith are some photos of the Sanctuary and then also of the Fortress of the Priamar.

JE comments:  See below.  Eugenio, I owe Savona a visit!  The Savonese seem to have had an unfortunate track record when picking allies.  A nautical question:  I presume the Genoese destroyed Savona's port to eliminate a commercial rival.  Was the port ever reconstituted, and if so, when?

Fortress of Priamar, Savona


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  • Savona's Port: History of Its Destruction and Restoration (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 04/17/23 2:44 AM)
    John E asked for more details on the destruction of Savona's port by the Genoese in the 16th century.

    The first defeat of Savona was in 1440, but Genoa limited itself to sinking several old ships in Savona's harbour to close it to large vessels. In 1528 Genoa destroyed the structures and filled in the port for good. The population of Savona was soon reduced to one-third of its pre-1528 level.

    Some improvement came under the rule of Napoleon, who sent Gilbert Chabrol de Volvic as prefect of the Department of Montenotte (13 Km from Savona, site of Napoleon's first victory on 12 April 1796). Chabrol de Volvic was also the jailer of Pope Pius VII when he was "prisoner" in Savona. By the way, the residence of this Pope is now on sale for 700,000 euros. The residence is said to remain as it was 200 years ago, if you are interested...

    But the definitive reconstruction of the port of Savona started in the second half of 19th century and continued into the 20th century. It was again destroyed in WWII, but again rebuilt under the supervision of my wife's uncle. Now it is a fairly good port connected with the port of Vado which handles oil, containers and ferry-boats. The only problem: the newly built container facilities are 49.9% owned by the Chinese: 40% Cosco and 9.9% Quindao Port International. But news came last March that Quindao is leaving and probably also Cosco. No official confirmation and no reasons for the departures, if they are confirmed.

    Pretty soon Italy should renew its membership in the BRI (China's Belt and Road Initiative). Most probably Meloni as a very good lackey of the Empire will not renew the agreement. But independence is an impossible dream.

    JE comments: Those cursed Genoese.  I found the Papal listing below, complete with two bathrooms and a "kitchenette."  No photos of the kitchen.  In today's market, €700K doesn't even sound that expensive.  Must be a fixer-upper.  "Just bring your tools!"

    Sale Apartment in via Pia. Savona. To be refurbished, second floor, ref. 101481093 (immobiliare.it)

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