Ettore Vernazza: Apostle of the Incurables

On 27/06/2023 in Genoa the celebrations for the jubilee year dedicated to Ettore Vernazza, known as the “Apostle of the Incurables”, will start on the occasion of the fifth centenary of his death on 27 June 1524. The commemoration will be presided over by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco and will be the starting point for a series of events and meetings dedicated to this prominent figure: a renowned notary, disciple of Saint Catherine Fieschi-Adorno and founder of the Company of Divine Love and of the nuns Daughters of San Joseph of Genoa.

The initiative, called “Ettore Vernazza: the Apostle of the Incurables – Five Centuries of Good”, was promoted by the archdiocese of Genoa and by the postulation of the cause of beatification of Vernazza. It also fits into the context of Genoa Capital of the Middle Ages programming for 2024, and aims to highlight the figure of Vernazza, which has been able to combine a strong spirituality with a generous and intelligent service to anyone in need.

Over the next few months, various thematic appointments will be organized focusing on assistance to the poor, care for the sick, cultural promotion, witnessing in professional life and financial activity at the service of the good and development of the city of Genoa. The celebrations will end in October of the following year with a historical-scientific conference.

Ettore Vernazza, born in Genoa but of family origin in the Cinque Terre, lived between the end of the 15th century and the first decades of the 16th century. After being widowed before the age of forty, he dedicated the rest of his life to the needy and the infirm, engaging in the construction and administration of hospitals in Genoa, Rome and Naples. He was nicknamed “the Apostle of the Incurables” for his dedication to caring for the sick, especially those suffering from syphilis. He founded associations and charitable organizations and promoted access to culture for the most disadvantaged, thus contributing to the founding of the University of Genoa.

Vernazza also undertook to provide medical, pharmaceutical and legal assistance services to the needy. He contributed to the reform of religious life, creating the Company of Divine Love and the Sisters Daughters of St. Joseph of Genoa, and was concerned with the protection and education of young people, both male and female. Using the “multiplier” at Banco di San Giorgio, a long-term annuity system, he provided for the needs of his many charities and allocated funds to house construction and port development.

Like many great humanists of his time, Vernazza aspired to the construction of an “ideal” city, peaceful and equipped with learned, virtuous and God-fearing men, as can be seen from the founding document of the “multiplicity”.

Ettore Vernazza’s legacy as a notary and philanthropist is still admired today and his commitment to the poorest and neediest continues to inspire and influence the Genoese community. The jubilee year dedicated to him is an occasion to celebrate his life and his commitment, recognizing his fundamental role in the social and religious history of the city of Genoa.