November 23, 2006

La Salute

Tuesday 21st November: Feast of La Salute
This is an annual festival where Venetians process across the Grand Canal on a votive bridge to the church of Santa Maria della Salute for Mass, and to light candles to pray for health or give thanks for good health over the past year. La Salute was started in 1630 to give thanks for the end of a plague. As a local holiday a lot of shops take the afternoon off. I went to the 10am Mass, which was celebrated by the Patriarch of Venice, who came in procession with the mayor and a lot of clergy. The church was decked out with red velvet around the pillars, and absolutely packed.
Afterwards everyone heads to a nearby street where there are helium balloons and sweet things on sale. I had a zalette or Venetian doughnut: it is quite large and flat, and a stick of toffee strawberries. It was a foggy morning though unfortunately. I then went to the other plague church in Venice, Il Redentore, which was designed by Palladio after the 1576 plague. The feast of Il Redentore is celebrated on the third weekend in July, and includes a fireworks show. The church is quite big, as it was designed for crowds, and interestingly contains no burials, in accordance with the wishes of the monks who originally served in the church. It is a beautiful church, with reminders of his other work, such as San Giorggio Maggiore. After this I returned home to do some more work.

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