Riding the wave

The history-Madonna of the figurehead of the Church of S. Carlo

A figurehead is a sui generis wooden statue of Our Lady of Fortune, now on the high altar of the church of San Carlo in via Balbi in Genoa. The history of this miraculous sculpture dates back to 1636 when, on January 17, in the port city struck a fierce storm that raged for hours and lashed the ships anchored there.

The next day, the destruction of scrap that crowded the waters, only one object appeared intact astonished eyes of the Genoese it was a large statue of a venerable lady, in one hand and a rosary in her arms a child who was holding a small globe.

The eighteenth-century historical narrative of Don Lorenzo Zignago, together with the acts of the processes and the extensive bibliographical age, attest that the statue was the figurehead of an Irish ship on the high board, anchored in the harbor. Destroyed the ship, the statue was, from the violence of the waves, thrown on the deck of said Chiavari, then thrown back on the old pier and there deposited intact in the calm waters of the dock, having miraculously overcome the obstacle represented by a galleon that blocked the mouth of the dock.

After various negotiations, the statue, along with what remained of the Irish ship, was purchased by two sailors who placed it in the funds of a building belonging to the family Lomellini. And there was the first miracle: a baby, falling from a window of a high floor of the building, he touched the ground unharmed, claiming to have been followed in his arms and deposited unharmed on the ground, the great lady who was dressed in blue warehouse.

The fame of the miracle spread through the city and the people asked that a sacred place to be accepted the statue, which was decided on the location in the nearby medieval church of S. Victor: the transfer took place during a solemn procession and, upon arrival at the temple, while carriers were about to place the statue in its niche, this move by himself and came to rest on the pedestal, the wonder and devotion of present.

In 1799 the parish seat was moved to St. Carlo, Via Balbi, and the church of S. Victor, desecrated, was converted into stock and then demolished in 1837. The statue, which they attributed many miraculous interventions, was then moved with solemn ceremonies in the same 1799, and was buried in a rich chapel, only to be definitely on the high altar.

The Church of SS. Victor and Charles, in Via Balbi in Genoa, a photograph of the Thirties
The high altar with the statue of Our Lady of Fortune, in a photograph of the Thirties

(Information taken from History around the Miraculous statue of Our Lady of Fortune which is venerated in the parish church of SS. Vittore e Carlo Genova - Via Balbi , edited by PP. Discalced Carmelites, Genova, 1934)