The History of Genga is rich of prestigious figures which became famous in the art of war, in literature, in politics and, above all, in the ecclesiastical world. Most of them belong to the notorious and old family of Counts of Genga. Historians recall brave warriors such as Guido, Ercole, Contuccio, Donnino, Ottaviano, Pirro, Nardino; sharp poetess Eleonora; political characters such as Prospero and Roberto; it is not to be forgotten Cardinal Gabriele of Genga, belonging to the branch of Counts, who governed as archbishop in Ferrara until 1847, then moved to Rome where became an important of Pope Pio IX. He died in 1861.
Great attention deserves the most illustrious man born in Genga, Annibale from Genga, son of Count Flavio and Countess Maria Luisa Periberti. He was first in Germany as papal nuncio then was appointed Cardinal by Pope Pio VII. In 1823 he reached the throne as Pope. In his short pontificate (he died in 1829) he worked hard, with reforming wit, beginning important works that would be later completed by Pope Gregory XVI and Pope Pio IX. He reformed the Vatican administration and published the code “Reformatio Tribunalium”. Rearranged the Universities of the State, in august 1824. He also wanted reform the index of the so called prohibited books, and among these, with prophetic gesture, freed some works of Galileo.
Despite the importance and originality of these initiatives , it’s undoubted that the best known and arduous fact of his pontificate was the great Jubilee of 1825. The Jubilee obtained great success and unexpected participation. Leone XII never forgot Genga, but his very short Pontificate prevented him from realising what expected. He made improve many roads, and prepared, without realising it, the project of elevating Monticelli to the rank of Abbey. He entrusted the famous French architect Valadier of projecting an octagonal temple that was to be built inside the Cave of the Sanctuary. Once realised, Leone XII made place in the temple an image of the Madonna in candid marble, work of Canova’s school. It must be remembered, finally, that Leone XVII was able to give bigger extension and more fertile land to the then poor and small Genga, inserting new outlying villages: Trinquelli, Colleponi, Casamontanara, San Donnino and Rocchetta.