On the 13th of September, is celebrated on the sea of La Spezia Gulf the feast of St. Venerio, an ancient worship that is the patron saint of sailors in the Gulf of La Spezia. For the occasion, several opportunities to visit the Island of Tino, generally close to the access to civilian boats.
BUT WHO WAS VENERIO, AND WHY WAS HE SO IMPORTANT TO THE GULF OF LA SPEZIA?
Venerio had in his name his origin and its connection with Portovenere. However, he was born precisely on Palmaria Island around 560 AD. He was an experienced sailor, lover of the freedom and solitude that had to be inspired then as today, by the view of the infinite sea that opens in Palmaria. At that time, we must imagine Portovenere as a fishermen’s center. The small Roman temple named after Venus projected to the sea from the end of the land was recently transformed into a church and had not yet been officially consecrated to St. Peter. Therefore, the island of Palmaria had to be wild and almost uninhabited; only a Benedictine monastery hosted some monks, which Venerio decided to join. A few years later, though, because he was bothered by the poor monastic life of his confreres, he resolved to be a hermit on the tiny island of Tino. Along with the Tinetto, the little island was the last propagation of a Gulf that, for the sailing of the time, was a safe refuge for sailors, especially on stormy days.
Venerio hermit soon becomes a reference for men seeking advice on sailing, aid in the stormy sea and their daily lives.
Numerous stories, challenging to tell from the legend, point to the extraordinary generosity of Venerio. The man was devoted to prayer and sacrifice, a good hermit, and a hard-working maritime servant. On nights of “black moon,” Venerio lighted fires to light up the sea. And some claim that the Saint was the inventor of the Latin sail, that is, the triangular sail that replaced the rectangular one because it allows the “wind up.” Indeed, the invention is much older, credited to Greece around 150 BC. Still, Venerio would likely promote it among local sailors. Perhaps he had observed it on passing ships as a sail that allowed a minor effort to “cling” when the wind was not in the stern.
Venerio worked to help men, cultivating where few managed, always looking for new ways to make sailing safer, and demonstrating it to sailors. In Portovenere, Venerio was already reverenced as a saint in his lifetime. He refused the vanity, of course, along with the gifts often offered to him. The Saint asked for charity towards the poor instead, contributing to the spread of Christianity in the region.
SAN VENERIO’S CULT IS CLOSELY LINKED TO THE LA SPEZIA GULF BOROUGHS OF MARITIME TRADITION, INHABITED BY EXPERIENCED SAILORS AND REFINED CRAFTSMEN.
Saint Venerio died around the year 630 d. C. and was on his Tino. From his experience was then born a monastery of monks who continued his work, especially evangelical, towards the hinterland. The cult of t
Saint Venerio died around the year 630 d. C. and was on his Tino. From his testimony, a monastery of monks was funded. They aimed to continue his work towards the hinterland, especially the evangelical one. The cult of the Saint spread widely in the Middle Ages when the inhabitants of the Cinque Terre coast addressed the Saint to protect them from the invaders coming from the sea, the Saracens.
In the 1960ies, some excavation works revealed the “Tomb of the sail” on the island of Tino. The excavation, still going on and continuously revealing treasures, is the cause for the attribution to Venerio of the “discovery” of the modern sail. The entire archaeological site is truly fascinating for its beauty and historical importance.