Festa della Salute
|Santa Maria della Salute|
Between 1630 and 1631, the plague raged through Venice killing 46,000 people, almost a third of the population. As a votive offering for the city's deliverance from the disease, the Republic of Venice vowed to build a church to Santa Maria della Salute (Our Lady of Health). It was also agreed that the Senate would visit the church once a year and the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin, namely November 21st, was chosen as the day. This decision determined the location of the church, which had to be built near the Palazzo Ducale (the seat of government).
Today's crowds are participating in a ritual which has been going on for hundreds of years. The only difference is that today's bridge is a pontoon; in the past the bridge would have been constructed by tying together a number of boats.
The festa is one of the rare moments when one has access to the beautiful and vast pavement in the centre of the church, which is normally roped off. And so earlier this afternoon, thinking that things might have quietened down a little, I paid the church a visit. What a miscalculation!
|The Dome of Santa Maria della Salute|