Festa della Salute

No comments
Santa Maria della Salute

In 1630 the bubonic plague was spreading across Europe. For two years, Venice was ravaged by the outbreak and forty six thousand people were said to have died from a population of one hundred and forty thousand; nearly a third of the population.

Doge Nicolò Contarini made a public vow to erect a church called The Salute, asking for the divine intervention of the Virgin Mary to rid the city of the plague. On October 22, 1630 the Senate decreed that a new church would be built. A competition was held for the design of the church and from the plans submitted by eleven architects, the one by Baldassarre Longhena was chosen. Longhena's design captured both the grandiosity and magnificence that the Serenissima wanted: a church that exalted both the Holy Virgin and the Venetian Republic.

It took until the 1680s for the church to be completed. To give thanks for deliverance from the plague, the Senate visited the church every year. The 21st November is known as the Festa della Madonna della Salute and is still celebrated today in the city. It is one of the most important dates in the year for Venetians.

Every year a pontoon bridge is built across the Grand Canal to connect the San Marco district to the Salute church.

The bridge of boats

One of the 'boats' hold up the votive bridge.
On the morning of the 21st November the Patriarch of Venice leads a procession of the city's officials from Saint Mark's Square over the bridge to the Salute church and the Patriarch gives a service of thanksgiving in the church. 

Venetians entering the church.

Crowds in the church.

The Patriarch's Sermon
Rowers from around the city parade down the Grand Canal to join in the festivities.

Citizens and visitors then visit the church taking candles to light. There are stalls selling the candles in front of the church.

In the streets behind the church are stalls selling frittelle (doughnuts), balloons, sweets and other food. It can be a crush depending on the time of day.  

 Castradina, a mutton stew, is typically eaten on this day.

No comments :

Post a Comment