Orienteering in the Old Town

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An Unusual Votive Shrine

In a corner of Via San Luca an amazing votive shrine dedicated to St. Vincent Ferrer is waiting only to meet the eyes of the passers-by.

Its preciousness and the delicacy of its shapes make it seem like a jewel.
Furthermore this marvellous marble oval encloses a relief with a miraculous scene. Actually, it is a quite unusual version considering that Genoese’s favourite Saints usually are the one who kill dragons or basilisks. Their saints rarely perform miracles… after all Genoese are people of action! 

This piece of art portrays the saint surrounded by a kneeled woman, a little boy and two men wearing respectively Western and Eastern clothes. Every character refers to a particular miracle worked by the saint; however the composition appears harmonic and the people of the scene seem to be gathered to be witnesses to another miracle.

But what wonder are we talking about? The presence of the cloud and the trees on the background make us think of the time in which the saint rained down to interrupt a period of drought. Nevertheless there is another element in the sky: a scroll. Even though it is empty the people of that time would have known that it was a reference to the Apocalypse! Indeed St. Vincent Ferrer is usually connected to the verset: “Fear the Lord, and give him glory; for the hour of his judgment has come”

The oval was realized to celebrate a miracle of the saint and the dedication is dated 1747. What happened in this tragic year? The Austrian army was thrown out of the city!

It was a real miracle for Genoa, since in this years the Genoese political situation was bad. The presence of the army created deep divisions in the city, in particular among the population and not only between commoners and aristocrats, but also among the nobility itself! 

So, we can conclude that this magnificent but almost forgotten marble oval tells us about one of the most famous moments of Genoa’s history.