Though the cave itself is located in the borough of Sanremo, the town of ARMA di Taggia is named after it, from the pre-Roman Ligurian word alma, or arma, meaning ‘cave’. It is one of the few cave churches in Liguria.Once a part of the seabed, the cave dates from the Upper Pliocene era, 5.9 million years ago.     It was inhabited by Neanderthals and their bones, dating from 80,000-100,000 years ago, were found here (now on display in Sanremo’s civic museum). It was certainly used as a religious site from the earliest times, even though the first records date from the 12th century.  The statues on the high altar, by the Genoese sculptor Oberto Casella, date from 1609; they are made of excellent Carrara marble, as are the balustrades. The marble and slate floor dates from 1624. The two side altars were built in the 18th century. On 14 February 1814 the church was privileged with a visit from Pope Pius VII (Barnaba Chiaramonti). The pontiff was returning from France where he had been imprisoned by Napoleon, following the latter’s abdication. He celebrated Holy Mass here and conceded special privileges to the high altar, as written in Latin on a plaque at the entrance.

During the First World War, the church was raided and damaged by thieves. During the Second World War, it was used as a warehouse for explosives by the German army; the entire area was armed against sea landings. The church is still consecrated and belongs to the parish of Bussana. Mass is said here on its feast day, 25th March, and on other rare occasions. The Gente Comune association and the residents of Arma di Taggia hope that your visit to this historic and artistic site has provided you with a moment of cultural interest during your stay and hope that you will remember this visit with pleasure.   

                                                      The members of the Gente Comune association      



Rev. Ottobre 2014

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