THE PARISH CHURCH
THE SAINTS PATRONS AND HISTORY : The holy martyrs Nazario and Celso are the protectors of Arenzano and its parish. Tradition tells of Nazario, born in Rome around 37 AD, baptized by S. Lino, executed and exiled from Milan, and of the young Celsus, his companion in the apostolate whom he met in southern Gaul. Condemned by the governor of Ventimiglia, Nazario and Celso miraculously escaped the torture by drowning in the sea and then landed in Genoa: they are credited with the evangelization of Liguria in the 66 and 67 years of the Christian era. The stop of Nazario and Celso in Arenzano dates back to these years; the cordial meeting with the local community takes place on a short hill, at the crossroads of roads that go towards the mountains and towards the sea: a place where memory is handed down and where a simple cross is first planted as evidence of the historical episode, when Bishop Ambrogio finds and proposes to devotion the remains of the two buried in Milan, the primitive chapel (4th century) rises, later enlarged
ART : A first church was built towards the VII-VIII century: it is a rectory dependent on the Pieve di Voltri in proto-Romanesque style and stands on the place where the presbytery of the large church will take place that will be built in the XVIII century and will have a mighty bell tower with the façade facing south. In 1349 the sacred building was enlarged by doubling its surface and moving the façade to the west side. In 1585 a further enlargement was made by lengthening the body of the building at the rear; over half of the northern side the new bell tower rises while the primitive one is partially demolished after the request to obtain parish license. In 1630 the church of Arenzano becomes an autonomous interpretation. In 1672, during the war between Genoa and Piedmont, the temple area was fortified with two bulwarks equipped with cannons. The year 1691 saw the attempt of a new enlargement nullified…. ”The charity died down and the work stopped”. Following the decision to undertake a new construction in 1703, the design of the architect Antonio Maria Ricca, the Augustinian Father Marino dell'Assunta, already author of the sanctuary of the Madonetta of Genoa, proposes an original solution with a large single nave at octagonal plan, inspired by the Madonna during the celebration of the Holy Mass. The central body, with the characteristic external slate cover, on the wooden structure obtained from a warping of masts of sailing ships and with the internal vault of plastered canicciato, is completed by the abisdale part and the atrium with the facade with two bell towers facing east. The imposing Baroque sacred building, capable of 5,000 people, was consecrated on 28 October 1771. The eight side altars, embellished with marble, stucco, columns and paintings are dedicated to Saint Joseph and Saint Erasmus, protectors of sailors and ironworkers and card makers. The main altar on which the Crucifix by Maragliano stands and on the sides of which the splendid canvases by Assereto stand out, is embellished by the marble frontal by Solaro and Orsolino from 1632. The vault of the internal dome was frescoed in 1866 by the painter Francesco Semino: the majestic scene of the Ascension occupies the central part while 4 representations of episodes from the life of Jesus (Resurrection of Lazarus - Disputa del Tempio - Ecce Homo - Tu es Petrus) appear in the underlying lateral panels; a suggestive Annunciation is painted in the lunette above the balustrade of the presbytery of the same Semino who also realizes the Last Supper on the vault of the atrium. At the end of the 19th century the interior of the parish is enriched by a marble pulpit.
DESTRUCTION AND RECONSTRUCTION : The Church of Arenzano is seriously damaged during the Second World War; on 14 August 1944 an aerial bombardment completely destroyed with the roof, the precious frescoed vault and most of the internal works, as well as the vast polychrome floor. The reconstruction began in 1946 with the firm intention of recovering the important monument in its original form. On May 16, 1948, the temple is covered with the characteristic roof in the shape of an overturned boat. Under the guidance of the parish priests (Archpriest Servetto until 1955, Archpriest Dellacasa from 1956 to 1998) and with the contribution and work of the Arenzanesi, the Church returns to its ancient splendor with the reconstruction of the bold and wide elliptical vault (among the few existing in the world) in bricks, on which the previous representations come back to life. The high altar which contains the relics of the patrons and numerous other saints, consecrated by Card. Siri in 1957. In the 1960s Massiglio also took care of the pictorial decoration of the presbytery with the frescoes of the vault (Gloria dei Santi) and of the apse ( Landing in Genoa of Nazario and Celso). The artists Mauro Repetto and Angelo Petrucci complete the finishing of the atrium by painting the Last Supper on the vault (1980s). The patron saints of Arenzano appear in the large windows. The patrons Nazario and Celso, San Giovanni Battista, Santa Caterina, San Bartolomeo, San Martino, Santa Chiara, San Pietro, San Sebastiano. The imposing Mascioni organ found accommodation in the apse in 1961, continuing the sequence of prestigious instruments at the service of the liturgy, formerly located in the orchestra above the central door. In the 1990s, the exterior was colored yellow - ocher and the churchyard was enlarged in the traditional Ligurian style. Towards the end of the century the project for the arrangement of the presbytery with the addition of a new central marble table and the relative ambo (Archpriest G. Noli). The parish has a beautiful Genoese nativity scene with wooden statues from the eighteenth-century school of Maragliano. The ark for the procession, by A. Brilla of 1874, with the plastic representation of the martyrdom of Saints Nazario and Celso is exhibited on the occasion of the patronal feast (28 July)