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Diocese of Savona and Noli
(SAVONENSIS ET NAULENSIS)
Province of Genoa, on the Gulf of Genoa, having a small but safe harbour. In addition to its maritime trade and ship-building, the population is chiefly engaged in manufactures of steel, glass, delph, majolica, and in the quarrying of lignite and marble. The cathedral, dating from 1589, restored in the nineteenth century, has three naves and a cupola; it contains beautiful frescoes by Coghetti. Close by the cathedral is the Sistine chapel, erected by Sixtus IV, whose ancestors belonged to Savona. The other churches contain paintings of great value. Among the secular buildings the most noteworthy is the Palazzo della Rovere, constructed by Sangallo; the paintings of Semini were destroyed when the palace was converted into a convent. Savona was formerly called Sabbatia or Savo. In the tenth century its bishops were counts of Savona, but later the countship passed to the marquesses of Monferrato (981) and afterwards to the marquesses of Vasto (1084); Savona was even then obliged to recognize a certain protectorate of the Republic of Genoa. From 1191 till 1215 it was a free commune. In 1238 it became subject to Genoa, but succeeded later on several occasions in gaining its independence (1238-51; 1318-1332; 1335-50). In 1525, the Genoese through jealousy obstructed its port. In 1745 it was bombarded by the English; the following year it was taken by the King of Sardinia, who restored it to Genoa, whose fortune it thenceforward shared. In 1809 Pius VII was imprisoned there by the French; he returned thither in 1816 to crown the Madonna della Misericordia. Savona is the birthplace of Popes Sixtus IV and Julian II, and also of the poet Gabriele Chiebrera.
The See of Savona derives from that of Vadum Sabbatium, now a small village three miles from Savona. The first known bishop was Benedict (680); Bishop Bernard in 992 established the monastery on the island of Berzezzi, after the see had been transferred to Savona; Blessed Amicus (1049) reformed the canons. Grossolanus (1098), previously Abbot of Ferrania, founded by Marquese Boniface of Savona (1097), was selected as Archbishop of Milan, but was opposed by others and passed his days in continued turmoil; Blessed Vidone Lomello was present at the Lateran Council of 1179; Ambrogio del Carretto (1191) induced the marquess, his brother, to grant independence to the Commune of Savona; Blessed Alberto di Novara had frequent conflicts with the commune, which took possession of the property of the Church; Enrico Ponsoni (1288) made peace with the neighbouring cities. In 1327 the city adhered to tho antipope Nicholas V, for which it was put under interdict for several years; Antonio Viale, a soldier rather than a bishop, had trouble with the Genoese, who kept him imprisoned at Noli; later, he avenged himself by having the doge, Antoniotto Adorno, deposed; Vincenzo Viale (1413) was famous for his erudition; Jacopo della Rovere (1504) is said to have died because he was not made a cardinal. In the sixteenth century the Republic of Genoa destroyed, without compensation, many churches and religious places to make way for fortifications. As the cathedral, constructed by Julian II, was amongst these, the canons in 1550, of their own accord, occupied the church of the Conventuals, who were absent that day, and the latter were deprived of their church till 1589, when the new cathedral was completed. Bishop Gio. Batt. Centurione (1592) was distinguished by his zeal in introducing reforms; Francesco Spinola (1632) had frequent disputes with the Genoese government, by whom he was exiled; Domenico M. Gentile (1775) restored the seminary; Vinc. M. Maggiolo (1804) entertained Pius VII for several years; Agostino M. de' Mari (1833), a zealous pastor, instituted evangelical works. In 1820 the Diocese of Noli, the ancient Naulum, was united to Savona. That diocese had been separated from Savona in 1239, at the request of the Republic of Genoa. The first bishop was Filippo (1248); among his successors may be mentioned the pious and gifted Barnabite Paolo Andrea Borelli (1700) and Benedetto Solaro, O.P. (1778), a supporter of the Synod of Pistoia. Savona is suffragan of Genoa and contains 60 parishes with 88,000 inhabitants, 170 secular and 75 regular priests, 9 educational institutions for boys and 15 for girls.
CAPPELLETTI, Le chiese D'Italia; RISSO, Notizie della chiesa vescovile di Vado (Genoa, 1829); TARTEROLI, Storia de Comune di Savona (Savona, 1849); Savonensis reipublicae monumenta historica (Savona, 1851); GABONI, Delle memorie particolari, etc. di Savona (Savona, 1885-91); VERZELLINIO, Guida storica e artistica di Savona (Savona, 1874).