The Monastery of Arenzano is founded by one of the fathers of Discalced Carmelites in Genoa, who has been present in Liguria since 1584. After the Napoleonic suppressions those of the Italian state, the monasteries were opened, also some new foundations were born. Thus, in 1888 it was decided to open a house for the education of young people and for the implementation of the work he was commissioned with Fr. Leopold M. of St. Joseph (Beccaro). In the town of Arenzano, he identified the ideal place for the foundation, which was undertaken on 5th August 1889 and dedicated to St. Therese of Jesus.
5th August 1889
He certainly did not foresee the consequences of this apparently insignificant act. In fact, the faithful began to flow ever more and more to honor the Infant Jesus, who did not leave unheard the prayers of His devotees.
25th September 1900
Later, Fr. John received a gift from the Marquis Delfina Gavotti of Savona, a beautiful statue of the Infant Jesus, resembling the original statue of Prague. About 52 cm in height, covered with red velvet, decorated with gold embroidery, which he placed at the feet of the Virgin of Carmel. This statue is currently kept in the inside of the monastery of Arenzano.
2nd June 1902
Laying the foundation stone of the new church of Arenzano and setting up the “Confraternity of the Infant Jesus of Prague” was established, later called “The Pious Union of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague”, which now has more than three million aggregates. The following year the first issue was published the magazine “Il Messaggero di Gesù Bambino” (The Messenger of Infant Jesus). A periodical with which he wanted to make universal knowledge of the devotion to the Little King.
It took four years to complete the construction of the church, the first Shrine dedicated to the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague, which was inaugurated on 6th September 1908. With the offerings of many devotees, who had received special thanks, the majestic throne could also be built placed above the high altar, and placed the statue of Infant Jesus. Really the welcome of the new devotion, the graces granted, and the gratitude of the faithful went beyond any expectation.
In 1924, the solemn coronation of the Infant Jesus was celebrated with the blessing of Pope Pius XI. Thus was read in “Il Messaggero di Gesù Bambino” (The Messenger of Infant Jesus) announcing the solemn event of the coronation of the Infant Jesus on 7th Sept. 1924.For the occasion, Pope Pius XI (who later established the solemnity of Christ the King) had decreed: “That the simulacrum of the Holy Infant Jesus under the title of Prague comes, in our name crowned with a golden crown. The solemn office of the coronation will be celebrated by Rev. Emperor Raffaele Card Merry of Val, Archbishop of the Patriarchal Vatican Basilica. Solemnity, preceded by a novena and a prayer vigil, was a great manifestation of love and glory to the Holy Infant Jesus.
7th Sept. 1924
In 1928, the Shrine was awarded the title of Basilica Minor, and in 1929 the marble facade was completed, Castellucci of Florence. In memory of the solemn coronation of 1924, a marble column surmounted by a golden bronze statue was erected on the square of the Shrine in 1937, engraved with the dedication: “Christo Jesu Infanti – Regi saeculorum immortali honor et gloria” (Honor and Glory to Jesus Christ, to the immortal King of the ages). In the same year was also the third centenary of the refunded of the statue of the Holy Infant Jesus by Fr. Cyril of the Mother of God, and of the divine promise: “The more you will adore me, the more I will favor you”.
6th May 1928
In 1940-1944 Arenzano suffered two different bombings for which he always thanked the Infant Jesus for His protection. In the chapel of blessing is the ex-vote offered after the first of these bombings. In 1944 a small altar was also dedicated to Infant Jesus in the hinterland of Arenzano, near an anti-aircraft shelter; the altar served to the faithful who, during the bombing, could not go to church.
The Provincial Superior, Fr. Anastasio Ballestrero, opened the Minor Seminary in 1940, a clear source of Carmelite vocations, greeted with generosity since 1952 by the Sisters of the Carmelite Teresian Union (UCT), a secular institute who lives the spirituality of Carmel in the midst of the world, with a strong focus on the priests.
In recent year the Shrine was expanded and two large transepts, the new bell tower and the new organ were made; the interior was also embellished with the tiles of Biancini Angelo (1911-1988) and was set up by the ceramist Eliseo Salino (1919-1999) an artistic permanent crib, in memory of the Bethlehem event.
Consecration of Arenzano to Infant Jesus and erection of the commemorative column on the city pier; positioning of the image of Infant Jesus on the Haven shipwreck on the 10th anniversary of the sinking.
In the evening of the 1st September 2001 the town of Arenzano was solemnly consecrated to Infant Jesus during the traditional procession in the presence of Cardinal Archbishop of Genoa, Bishop of Nazareth, Provincial of Carmelite, Military and Political Authorities and Dr. Peta Burgr (delegate of the Mayor of Prague). It was passed first to the parish and then to the Municipal Palace, in the Council of State, where the protocol was signed, which officially ratified the consecration. Then it
continued for the pier of Arenzano, where Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, with the Bishop of Nazareth and the city authorities opened the votive column. In this circumstance, Infant Jesus was also honored with a statue posed by the divers on the Haven tanker (sunk off Arenzano in 1991), in gratitude for the disasters that were really limited.
Centenary of the first consecration of the Shrine and dedication of the altar by Card. Angelo Bagnasco
The Shrine celebrated its first centenary years with an articulated spiritual program in 2008. On 15th March, the chapel of passion was inaugurated. In the same year, he was invited again the Bishop of Nazareth Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, who brought with him several stones from Bethlehem and Nazareth to be inserted in the altar, as a spiritual bond between the Shrine and those holy places, which saw the Incarnation and the Birth of Jesus. Finally, Cardinal Angel Bagnasco dedicated the new altar on 7th Sept.2008.
7th Sept. 2008
Thanks to the fact that, Fr. Leopoldo Beccaro is at the same, time the founder of the Monastery of Arenzano and co-founder of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC), as well as for the twenty-year collaboration in action in the Mission in Central Africa, in 2010 by the Kerala some sisters of this congregation, have come to serve alongside the fathers in the care of the Shrine of service to pilgrims.