Venerio, the welcoming hermit on the Tino Island
The city, or perhaps it is better to say its sea, is preparing to celebrate San Venerio, the saint protector of the Gulf
On the 12th and 13th, 16th and 17th September, is celebrated on the sea of the Gulf the feast of St. Venerio, an ancient worship that is the patron saint of sailors in the Gulf of La Spezia. For the occasion, several opportunities to visit the Tino island, normally closed to the access to civilian boats, including the blessing of boats and the Holy Messe. There will be a special boat service to reach the island.
But who was Venerio, and why is he so important to the Gulf of La Spezia?
Venus had in his name his origin and its connection with Portovenere, although he was actually born precisely on Palmaria Island around the year 560 AD. He was an experienced sailor, lover of the freedom and solitude that had to be inspired then as today, by the view of the infinite sea that opens in Palmaria. At that time, we must imagine Portovenere as a fishermen’s center, the small Roman temple dedicated to Venus ericina that was projected to the sea from the end of the land was recently transformed into a church and had not yet been officially consecrated to St. Peter. The island of Palmaria had to be wild and almost uninhabited, only a Benedictine monastery hosted some monks, whom Venerio decided to join. A few years later, though, because he was bothered by the little monastic life of his confreres, he decided to get hermit on the tiny island of Tino, along with the Tinetto, the last propagation of the gulf which possibly was, for the sailing of the time, especially in the days a storm, a safe harbor of sailors.
Venerio hermit soon becomes a reference for men seeking advice on sailing, aid in the stormy sea and their daily lives.
There are numerous stories not always easy to tell from the legend, which tell about the extraordinary generosity of Venerio, devoted to prayer and renunciation, a good hermit, but also to the hard-working maritime service, aimed at sailors. On nights of “black moon” Venerio lighted fires to light up the sea. And there are those who claim that the saint was the inventor of the Latin sail, that is, of the triangular sail that replaced the rectangular one because it allows the “wind up”. Indeed, it seems that the invention is much older, and it happened in Greece around the year 150 BC, but it is very likely that Venerio would promote it, perhaps because he had observed it by passing ships, such as a sail that allowed minor effort to “cling” when the wind is not in the stern.
Venerio worked was used to help men, cultivating where few managed, always looking for new ways to make sailing safer, and demonstrating it to sailors. In Portovenere he was venerated as a saint already in his lifetime, fame that Venerio refused, along with the gifts offered to him: the Saint was asking quite charity towards others, contributing to spread Christianity in the region.
The cult of San Venerio is closely linked to the maritime tradition of the boroughs of the Gulf of La Spezia, inhabited by experienced sailors and refined craftsmen.
Saint Venerio died around the year 630 d. C. and was on his Tino. From his experience was then born a monastery of monks who continued his work, especially evangelical, towards the hinterland. The cult of the saint spread widely in the Middle Ages, so that the inhabitants of the Cinque Terre addressed the saint to protect them from the invaders of the sea, the Saracens.
In the sixties of the last century on the island of Tino, some excavation works revealed the “Tomb of the sail” which would witness the “discovery” of the modern sail by Venerio, the entire archaeological site is truly fascinating for beauty and historical importance.
San Venerio 2018, the day programme on Tino Island and Portovenere
DEPARTURES FROM LA SPEZIA:
09:30 – 10:40 – 11:50 – 14:15 – 15:30
RETURN FROM TINO ISLAND TO LA SPEZIA:
11:10 – 12:20 – 14:45 – 16:10 – 18:00
Adults return ticket € 12,00 – Kids (6-11 ys) return € 8,00
DEPARTURES FROM PORTO VENERE
09:45 – 11:15 – 12:30 – 14:15 – 15:30
RETURN FROM TINO ISLAND TO PORTOVENERE
10:00 – 11:30 – 12:45 – 14:30 – 15:45 – 17:45
Adults return ticket € 8,00 – kids (6-11 ys) return € 5,00
DEPARTURES FROM LERICI
9:40 – 10:50 – 12:00 – 14:30
RETURN FROM TINO ISLAND TO LERICI
11:20 – 12:30 – 15:00 – 16:20 – 17:30
Adults return ticket € 13,00 – Kids (6-11 ys) return € 8,00