In the presbytery, in all its grandeur, stands the great late baroque altar made by Pasquale Bocciardo in 1764. Its current front screen is very recent: it dates back to 1909.
Prior to this there was a much more simple plate, by Stefano Sormano (1603) that well fitted the much more sober and essential lines of the ancient altar.
Dating back to 1604 are the two marble eagles, placed at both sides of the altar, holding up the banner of the city of Savona. They are the only original element of the altar and the only sign left on site of the patronage of the Municipality on the main chapel of the cathedral.
On the altar structure there is the monumental ciborium (the tabernacle in the shape of a small temple), remarkable roman work in the early Baroque style.
Thanks to the efforts of Giulietta Gavotti Ferrero and Violante Grassi Nano the ciborium project had been entrusted to Orazio Grassi (1583-1654), Jesuit of Savona who wanted it to have the same form and magnitude characteristics of the one that was in the church of Jesus in Rome, with some variations and improvements.
It was requested greater value in the quality of marble, finish, and gilding, and that prophets’ statues would have been inserted in the niches and a relief depicting the Last Supper in the prospectus, all in gilded bronze, based on the models manufactured by Alessandro Algardi.
Once the contract with the manager and marbles merchant Santi Ghetti was concluded in Rome in 1636, the new tabernacle was set up by the marble worker Giovanni Piloti the following year, according to the agreements, and placed in 1638 on the high altar in a central position in the presbytery space as a tangible sign of the primary role of the Eucharist in the life of faith. Such was in fact the will of Father Orazio Grassi, indicating that this tabernacle had to be perfectly finished on all four sides, so that it would have been visible and appreciated from any point of view.
AA.VV., cura di Giovanna Rotondi Terminiello, “UN’ISOLA DI DEVOZIONE A SAVONA, il complesso monumentale della cattedrale dell’Assunta”, Marco Sabatelli Editore, Savona, 2002.
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