English

Saint Ampelio

Saint Ampelio

Saint Ampelio

It is a small church built on the rocks, as a guard which watches the entrance to the city from the East. Cape St. Ampelio is the most southern promontory of Liguria and Northern Italy (it is on the same latitude as Pisa). According to the legend, St. Ampelio, patron of Bordighera, was an anchorite, who arrived here from the desert of Thebaid in the 5th century, bringing the seeds of the first palms as a present. Ampelio lived in a cave among the rocks. The archeologist Nino Lamboglia defined the church: "A palimpsest of ten centuries of history". The present building in Romanesque style dates back to the 11th century. It depended on the powerful Benedictine abbey of Mountmajour in Provence. It was modified in the 15th an 17th centuries and restored in 1884. The facade and bell-tower are modern. Near the altar, a statue of the saint of the 17th century can be found. The crypt, with two apses and small, inclined loop-holes, holds a squared-off block of stone from La Turbie (the rock which dominates the Principality of Monaco). According to the legend, this stone was the poor and very uncomfortable "bed of the saint", where Ampelio died the 5th October 428. In 1140 the Republic of Genoa, to punish the rebels, transferred the relics of the saint to the nearby and faithful Sanremo, where they were placed in the church of St. Stephen which was run by the Genovese Benedictine friars. (pictures: The Church of St. Ampelio picture by Claudio Feltrin. and The crypt of the church of St. Ampelio from "Bordighera" by A. Besio, picture by Max Mencarelli.)

In 1258 another transfer, directly to Genoa, to the abbey of St. Stephen, where according to the legend, Ampelio, blacksmith by profession, became the protector of the blacksmiths. In 1947 the archbishop of Genoa, Giuseppe Siri, gave the relics of the saint to Bordighera. Ampelio came back home by boat on 16th August. He was taken in procession through the crowd to the Church of Magdalene, where he now lies. The patron celebrations take place on 14th May, in memory of the transfer of the relics from Sanremo to Genoa in 1258. Beside the religious celebrations, there are also the ball in piazza E. De Amicis and the fireworks. A little further up the street from the church is the monument of Queen Margareth (1939) by Italo Griselli (1880 - 1950), a sculptor who won an important national contest.

from "Bordighera" by A. Besio,1998,SAGEP-Genova. 
(translation by  Manuela Borella)