October 23, 2014

San Bonaventura

San Bonaventura

This church and an adjacent monastery were founded in 1620 by the Franciscan order of the Riformati (which gave the name to the Fondamenta dei Riformati in front). These Franciscans friars relocated from the island monastery of San Francesco del Deserto and received funding from the wealthy Zen family to build this religious complex on reclaimed land in northern Cannaregio, not far from the church of Sant’ Alvise.

The church is dedicated to St. Bonaventure (1221-1274), an Italian theologian and early follower of St. Francis of Assisi.

After the fall of the Venetian Republic and the great suppression of churches, the church and monastery were closed. The place was used as a factory and for other secular purposes until 1859, when it was purchased by a Venetian countess who gave the complex to the Carmelite nuns of Santa Teresa. In the early 20th century, the nuns ran a children’s hospital here, and the church was the private chapel for the convent.

The nuns are still there today and Mass is celebrated daily at 6:30 in the morning according to the Patriarch of Venice website. I've never found it open and going to Mass might be the only way to visit it. The church was behind scaffolding a few years ago – not sure if the restoration is completed yet or not.

San Bonaventura

This Google Earth view shows the cloisters, gardens, and so many trees.

San Bonaventura


San Bonaventura

October 10, 2014

Venetian Art in DC

The National Gallery of Art has a treasure trove of Venetian art - an amazing collection. The gang's all here - the Vivarinis and the Bellinis, Cima, Veronese, Lotto, three paintings by Giorgione (!) and a whole room of Titians. Here are a few things that caught my eye during my visit last month.

Paolo Veneziano, The Coronation of the Virgin, 1324


National Gallery of Art


Both of these Carpaccios are so beautiful. While I love his epic series in Venice, these smaller and quieter paintings are so lovely.


Vittore Capaccio, The Flight into Egypt, 1515

National Gallery of Art


Vittore Carpaccio, The Virgin Reading, 1505

National Gallery of Art


This Tintoretto below is very interesting, not as dark and stormy with a much lighter palette than most of his works.

Jacopo Tintoretto, The Madonna of the Stars, second half of the 16th century


National Gallery of Art

After I visited the National Gallery, I walked across the mall to the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. Those of you who have visited the Guggenheim Museum in Venice and seen "The Angel of the City" on the terrace will understand why this sculpture by the same artist caught my eye. It's very similar but something is missing...


Marino Marini, Horse and Rider, 1952-53

Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

October 3, 2014

Titian's Danaë

I went to Washington DC for a few days last month; it was a work trip, but I did have enough free time to visit the National Gallery of Art to see Titian's painting, Danaë, which is on a six-month loan from the Capodimonte Museum in Naples.

I was excited to visit a Titian I'd never seen before, and the museum helped build the anticipation during the long walk to see the painting.

National Gallery of Art


National Gallery of Art


National Gallery of Art


And here it is. What a gorgeous painting. You can get a better look at it on the Web Galley of Art.


National Gallery of Art

Titian was commissioned to paint Danaë by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, the grandson of Pope Paul III. Titian began the painting in Venice and then completed it during his trip to Rome in 1545-46. The brochure from the National Gallery of Art says, "Titian established a new genre in Western art, that of erotic mythologies..." and notes that there wasn't much demand for such paintings in his hometown of Venice and so Titian painted these beauties for non-Venetian patrons like Cardinal Farnese.

Giovanni della Casa, the papal legate to Venice, visited Titian's studio when the Danaë was in progress and wrote a letter to Cardinal Farnese telling him that the painting was so shocking that it made the Venus of Urbino "look like a nun by comparison." A funny exaggeration! Eight years prior to painting Danaë, Titian had painted the equally gorgeous Venus of Urbino for another non-Venetian patron (this painting is now in the Uffizi in Florence).

Another great story about Danaë comes to us from Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists. When Titian went to Rome, he was given studio space in the Vatican and continued his work on Danaë. One day Michelangelo visited Titian's studio and saw the painting. He praised it lavishly but later confided to Vasari that while the colors were masterful, it's a shame that Venetian artists had never learned how to draw. Ouch! Sounds like some sour grapes to me. But I love knowing that Titian and Michelangelo met.

During World War II, the Nazis looted Danaë and many other works of art. When the war ended, the painting was found hidden in a salt mine in Austria; two years later, it was returned to Italy.

Another post will be coming soon about some of the other Venetian gems I saw in DC.

Here's a couple more pics from the National Galley of Art - these little kids were gathered around Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Ginevra de' Benci, all holding the audio guide headsets up to their ears and listening intently. It bugs me that the arts have been pretty much eliminated from US public schools, so it made me happy to see this.


National Gallery of Art

And I saw this in the National Gallery bookstore - a new book about Venice! I haven't read it yet but it's on my to-read list.

National Gallery of Art

September 17, 2014

Anno Mariano

There are several shrines in Venice with inscriptions indicating that the shrines commemorate "Anno Mariano" (a "Marian year" dedicated to Mary).

The first of these years was 1954, declared by Pope Pius XII. An article published in 1953 explains it and says that the Pope asked for people all over the world to visit shrines to Mary during this year. He also wrote a special prayer for her.

I learned via google that hundreds of roadside shrines were built in Ireland during the Anno Mariano 1954.

I'm not sure that all of these Venetian shrines were built in 1954; my guess is that some of them were existing shrines that were renovated to commemorate Anno Mariano. This first one is on Giudecca and has a metal plaque at the bottom that says "Anno Mariano 1954."


Giudecca 882 B


A Cannaregio shrine that in addition to "Anno Mariano 1954" says "Regina della Pace, Prega per noi. La Parrocchia di San Giobbe."

yellowedit


Another Cannaregio shrine, this one a little worse for wear, with the same inscripition as the one above indicating that the shrine was built or is maintained by the Parish of San Giobbe.


Canneregio 679


This one is in Dorsoduro~

Dorsoduro 2394


Another gorgeous Giudecca shrine, the inscription below this one says "Ricordo Anno Mariano 1954" (in memory of...).


Giudecca 53-54 A

Giudecca 53-54 A


This beautiful shrine on Murano with the Madonna Nikopeia inside has a stone plaque below that says "Anno Mariano 1954."


Murano


The second Marian Year was in 1987, decreed by Pope John Paul II. He also wrote a prayer for the Marian year. This Cannaregio shrine honors both of the Marian years. This is the only one I've found that mentions the second year.


Cannaregio 992

August 26, 2014

Santa Ternita

Campo Santa Ternita

Santa Ternita was a parish church in Castello, founded around 1026 and built with funds from the Celsi and Sagredo families (the Sagredo’s enormous 15th century palazzo is nearby). The church was located at Castello 3026 next to the Ponte del Sufragio where an apartment building stands today. The residents of this parish were working class for the most part, many of them employed at the nearby Arsenale. The church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity (an unusual non-human saint).

The church was rebuilt in 1507 and restored several times (in 1569 after a fire in the Arsenale, and again in 1721).

Santa Ternita was deconsecrated and closed in 1810, and the church building was used for timber storage until 1832 when it was demolished. The campanile survived a while longer than the church; it was cut in half and converted into private homes. But the tower collapsed on December 13, 1880, burying a resident named Giovanni Baratelli who was pulled from the rubble unharmed.

This 1847 drawing shows the campo after the church had been demolished but before the campanile was cut in half~


Santa Ternita


Several Santa Ternita priests have entered the history books for dubious behavior. One of them was banished from Venice in 1607 because he was part of the gang that attempted to assassinate Fra Paulo Sarpi.

Another priest entered the public record in 1617 when it was discovered that he was sending love letters, poetry, and gifts to a nun at San Sepolcro and to two other nuns at San Daniele (both nearby convents).

And then there’s the wild story of Santa Ternita priest Francesco Vincenzi who, along with a young Venetian woman, Antonia Pesenti, was brought before the Inquisition in 1668 for religious fraud that involved a “miraculous” painting of the Virgin Mary in the church. Antonia would go into ecstatic religious trance before this painting, and the priest was spreading the word around Venice that she was a “living saint” (crowds began coming to Santa Ternita for the spectacle and in hopes of receiving a miracle). It’s a complicated story told in the book, Aspiring Saints: Pretense of Holiness, Inquisition, and Gender in the Republic of Venice, 1618-1750 by Anne Jacobson Schutte.

As I wrote in my post about Campo Do Pozzi, the church of Santa Ternita is honored in that campo with a carving on the remaining well-head. For some quirky reason, other Castello churches are commemorated on the Campo Santa Ternita well-head with reliefs of St. Francis of Assisi and John the Baptist (the reliefs are so degraded that it’s hard to tell which saint is which, but my guess is that John the Baptist is the first one). Both of these churches still stand – San Francesco della Vigna (which is now the parish church for the residents of Santa Ternita) and San Giovanni in Bragora.

Campo Santa Ternita

Campo Santa Ternita

Campo Santa Ternita

The church of Santa Ternita had paintings by Palma il Giovane, Giambattista Tiepolo, and maybe even Vittore Carpaccio (I haven’t been able to find out which painting and where it is now). Some of the church’s art was moved to San Francesco della Vigna after Santa Ternita was supressed.

The church also had a couple of famous relics. One was Venetian saint San Gerardo Sagredo, a Benedictine monk who was martyred in Hungary in 1047. There was a chapel dedicated to him which contained a painting of the saint by Girolamo da Santacroce. There’s a modern church dedicated to San Gerardo Sagredo in Giudecca (maybe the relics are there now).

The other relic was even more famous. In the 13th century, Santa Ternita received the body of St. Anthanasius (he was first stolen from Egypt and taken to Constantinople, then the Venetians brought him to Venice).

This saint was the 4th century Bishop of Alexandria who participated in the Council of Nicea where the Nicene Creed was developed. He helped to decide which religious texts should become “official” books of The Bible and which should not (the 27 books he proposed ended up being the New Testament). His relics are now in the church of San Zaccaria.

A cool building in this campo (hard to tell what those old traces indicate, bigger windows perhaps?)~

Campo Santa Ternita


The campanile of San Francesco della Vigna is visible from Camp Santa Ternita~


Campo Santa Ternita

Another nice thing in this campo: a modern lunette with a 14th century relief of the Madonna and child inside~

Campo Santa Ternita

Campo Santa Ternita

A 1905 drawing of the campo~

Campo Santa Ternita

You can read about other demolished churches here.

August 18, 2014

Madonna trampling on Satan

I know I'm not the only one who keeps a "next time I'm in Venice" list. Whenever I read about something that I want to seek out, I jot it down. A few years ago, I was reading John Freely's "Strolling Through Venice" (a walking tour guide) and read this:


"On the façade of the house on the corner to the right there is a statuette of the Madonna, who is holding the Christ Child and trampling on Satan."

This immediately went on my list! But when I found it, I discovered that the statue is surrounded by plexiglass, hard to see and virtually impossible to photograph.

San Polo 2614 A

I took so many photos of this statue, from every angle, trying to find some way though the plexiglass shield. Not much luck!

San Polo 2614 A

San Polo 2614 A


This was the best I could do, right underneath looking up.

San Polo 2614 A


Later on, I learned from my UK blog friend, Bert, that some people call this statue "Sputnik" since the covering resembles some kind of bizarro space craft. A shrine with a nickname...I love it.

Here's the good news. I found a pre-plexiglass photo to scan in!

There's also a photo of the statue on Victorian Web.

San Polo 2614 A

It's a unique image of Satan for sure - part cherub, part baby devil (with horns). Because it's painted wood, the statue needs the plexiglass to protect it, but it's a shame that it makes it so difficult to see. I love the little blue stars painted inside the canopy.

There's a local story/legend that this statue was discovered when the canal was drained in the 19th century (whenever you see "Rio Tera" in a street name in Venice, it means that the street/calle is a former canal that was filled in).

If the statue was found in the canal, it might have been the figurehead of a boat. You can find this charming Madonna at San Polo 2614 A (not that far from the Frari).

August 9, 2014

PhotoHunt: Music

"I know, it's only rock and roll..."

This summer is the 25th anniversary of Pink Floyd's infamous concert in Venice. This show was one of the stops on Pink Floyd's "A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour" - so apropos! Whoever decided that Venice could handle such an event definitely had a lapse of some sort. :)

Pretty much everyone agrees that it was a disaster.

From the Piazza San Marco website:


On the evening of 15 July 1989 on the Feast of the Redeemer, the historic English rock band Pink Floyd held a concert in the basin of San Marco in front of the Palazzo Ducale on a floating stage 24 meters high and towed by a barge 90 meters to 30. Venice was invaded by more than two hundred thousand people, a lot of people that shook the city demonstrating its inability to support events of this magnitude. Lacked all essential services (security, hygiene, first aid) and most of the bars and public places in the face of this invasion had closed its doors after learning that the police were not able to provide security. So the city was covered with excrement and tons of waste. The streets and squares transformed into open-air baths and the Piazza San Marco in a big dump. The controversy in the aftermath of the concert and the use of the city for events of this type were hot both locally and nationally...

Here's what David Gilmour of Pink Floyd said~

"We had a really good time, but the city authorities who had agreed to provide the services of security, toilets, food, completely reneged on everything they were supposed to do, and then tried to blame all the subsequent problems on us."

The stage looked very cool out in the lagoon~


pinkfloyd

Here's a video that shows the mountain of garbage left behind.


So to commemorate this 25th anniversary, a group called Floydseum is having an exhibit in Venice in the deconsecrated church of Santa Marta.

What an interesting use for a former church! A night of wonders...


nightofwonders


While it's pretty certain that Venice will never host a concert like this again, this one won't be forgotten. In 2010, I saw this poster below. Hard Rock Cafe Venezia was sponsoring another walk down memory lane about the Pink Floyd concert.


hard rock cafe venezia


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

August 6, 2014

August 6 (San Salvador)

August 6 is the Feast of the Transfiguration and for centuries, this was the day that the beautiful Pala d'Argento was unveiled in the church of San Salvador. This Gothic altar screen spends most of the year hidden behind Titian's painting of The Transfiguration on the high altar of the church (though since la pala's recent restoration, I think the church has been showing it on other high holy days too).

You can see the gorgeous restored Pala d'Argento in this 2011 YouTube video.

supper at emmaus

Speaking of art in San Salvador, its two Titians receive most of the attention, but there's another masterpiece with a fascinating story inside this church. It’s such a cool thing when an art history mystery is solved.

Supper at Emmaus was believed to be the work of the great Giovanni Bellini for many centuries up until about 100 years ago. Lorenzetti (whose Venice and its Lagoon was published in the early 20th century) attributes the painting to Bellini and praises it, saying that it’s “remarkable for its luminous colour and the loftiness of its conception.”

Somewhere along the way in the 20th century, art historians decided that it wasn’t painted by Bellini but was perhaps from his workshop. Hugh Honour (Companion Guide to Venice, 1965) says of the art in the church of San Salvador: “There are three outstanding pictures in the church. In the nave there is a "Supper at Emmaus" painted in clear bright colors and flooded with Venetian light…it has been attributed to Giovanni Bellini, though most authorities now assign it to a follower.”

Then during a 1998 restoration by Save Venice, a date (1513) and an inscription were discovered that helped to prove that it was actually painted by Vittore Carpaccio. The fact that there’s a Turk wearing a turban helped to solve the mystery too. The full story is here (The Rediscovery of Carpaccio’s “Supper at Emmaus”, Dated 1513, in the Church of San Salvador).

That little bird in the foreground sure looks like something Carpaccio would paint.

July 26, 2014

PhotoHunt: Modern Architecture

wright

The drawing above is by Frank Lloyd Wright and shows his proposed building in Venice (which ended up being "too modern" for some people and was never built).

The architect worked on this design from 1951-53. The building was intended to be student housing for the university of Ca' Foscari and would be a memorial to young Venetian architect Angelo Masieri. Masieri's parents owned the triangular piece of land close to the university (and next to Palazzo Balbi) where the dorm would have been built.

The design was a modern palazzo with a façade that would have included Murano glass. Frank Lloyd Wright said,

"Venice does not float upon the water, but rests upon the silt at the bottom of the sea. In the little building that I have designed slender marble shafts, firmly fixed upon concrete piles (two to each) in the silt, rise from the water as do reeds or rice or any water plants. These marble piers carry the floor construction securely - the cantilever slab floors thus made safe to project between them into balconies overhanging the water - Venetian as Venetian can be. Not imitation but interpretation of Venice. "

While the project had some supporters, many Venetians were opposed. Angelo Masieri's father passed away during the negotiations and the project died shortly thereafter too.

There is some modern architecture in Venice but much of it was designed to look old, not modern.

Another scrapped modern building: Pierre Cardin's tower.


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

July 19, 2014

Capella del Santo Chiodo

This week's PhotoHunt theme is "Nails," so I decided to share this 2011 post about the "Chapel of the Holy Nail" in Venice. Happy Photohunting and have a nice weekend.


San Pantalon

The Capella del Santo Chiodo (Chapel of the Holy Nail) in the church of San Pantalon is such a wonderful little place. Admission to the church itself is free, but they ask for a one euro donation to visit this chapel. It's well worth it not just to see the altar that housed one of Venice’s most revered relics but also because of the amazing treasure trove of early Venetian art that’s tucked away back there.

Let’s start with the relic, the holy nail, which began its Venetian journey in the now demolished church and convent of Santa Chiara (it was in the sestiere of Santa Croce where the Piazzale Roma police station is now). How the Franciscan nuns of Santa Chiara came into possession of this relic is another charming Venetian story.

In 1270, a pilgrim visited Santa Chiara and gave the nuns a box and a ring, instructing them to keep the box safe without opening it, and to only give the box to someone who came along with an identical ring. Three hundred years passed, no one came, and I guess the nuns couldn’t take the suspense anymore and decided to open the box where they found a sacred nail used in the Crucifixion. A letter in the box revealed that the pilgrim who had brought the holy nail to the nuns was St. Louis IX, King of France, who had gotten the nail from Sant’ Elena (who had traveled to the Holy Land and found the True Cross). None of the dates in this story add up, by the way, but no worries, it’s still a great story. All that matters is that Venice ended up with an incredible relic.

When Santa Chiara was demolished, the sacred nail and its Gothic altar were moved to the church of San Pantalon. The altar is fantastic especially the little niche housing an exquisite early 14th century carving of the Deposition scene (top photo, you can click to see it larger).

I couldn’t see the holy nail and thought that perhaps it was only revealed on Holy Days, but then my UK blog friend, Andrew, told me that when he visited San Pantalon and asked to see the nail, someone told him that it had been stolen!


San Pantalon

On an adjacent wall is a glorious painting, Coronation of the Virgin (1444) by Antonio Vivarini and Giovanni d'Alemagna (brothers-in-law who were both part of the Vivarini workshop and often painted collaboratively). This painting was commissioned for San Pantalon’s high altar where it hung for a couple of centuries. I guess than in the 17th century when the church was rebuilt and “went for Baroque,” they moved it since it’s small and would be lost in the huge and imposing altar that’s there now. Fine with me, it’s much easier to see in this little chapel. This painting was restored by Save Venice in 1996 and it looks wonderful.


San Pantalon

And then on the opposite wall are three paintings by Paolo Veneziano. In the middle is the lovely and haunting Madonna of the Poppy (1325). I love her!


A few more photos from the chapel are below the jump (click “continue reading”).


San Pantalon

Continue reading "Capella del Santo Chiodo" »

July 14, 2014

Corte de Ca' Sarasina revisited

More and more vintage photographs of Venice have been scanned in and made their way onto the web; I love looking at them.

I was excited to find this one which shows this Castello shrine and the Venetians in the neighborhood over a hundred years ago.

Click on the photo to see it larger, so you can see the smiling faces and all the laundry!

Castello 1194

This is one of the most fantastic shrines in Venice - more of a small chapel than a shrine and so well-cared for and loved. This shrine has been in this corte since the 17th century at least.

The Ca' Sarasina shrine even has a YouTube video complete with Mozart! And more laundry!

More photos are in my previous posts about this shrine:

My first post

My second post


There's another nice image of the Madonna in this corte - this one is more modern than the Byzantine icon inside the shrine.


Castello 1220


Castello 1220

May 31, 2014

PhotoHunt: Jewelry

Last month I did a post about the Madonna Nikopeia and her missing jewelry which would have been perfect for this theme too.

Wasn't sure I had more Venice-related jewelry photos but I found a couple (I guess that rosaries are jewelry, of sorts. Sacred jewelry?)


Love the colors of these rosaries - they remind me of Mardi Gras beads.


Venice


And here is Santa Lucia (St. Lucy) with rosary beads in her hand. This is inside the church of Santi Geremia e Lucia in Cannaregio.


Santa Lucia


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

May 23, 2014

PhotoHunt: Mirror

In the Galleria Franchetti in Venice, there's a painting by Titian called "Venus with a Mirror."

What's wrong with this picture? Well, despite the title, there's no mirror in it because someone cut off the right side of the painting (where the mirror used to be). Why? No clue. Maybe because the painting was too big for their frame? Hard to imagine cutting up a Titian!


Venus with a Mirror


This was a popular subject that Titian painted more than once. There's another "Venus with a Mirror" in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The mirror survives in this painting (a cute cherub is holding it for her).


Venus with a Mirror

Titian did this painting in 1555, five years after the Venice version. When he died, his son inherited the painting but then sold it along with all the other contents of his father's house to Venetian nobleman, Cristoforo Barbarigo. In 1850, the Barbarigo family sold the painting to Czar Nicholas I of Russia, and the painting was in the Hermitage until 1931 when it was purchased by Andrew Mellon who later gave it to the National Gallery in DC. A long strange trip!

The Galleria Franchetti is in Ca' d'Oro, one of the most beautiful buildings in Venice.


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

May 2, 2014

Campiello San Antonio

This week's PhotoHunt theme is "Flowers."

This stately large street shrine has a small pot of live flowers in front, and several bright and blowsy artificial blossoms stuck into the grate. While some of the shrines in Venice seem abandoned and neglected, the floral offerings show that this one is clearly cared for and loved.


Cannaregio 4933


It just makes sense that a campiello named for St. Anthony of Padua would have a shrine dedicated to him. As I've written before, San Antonio is the second most represented saint in the shrines of Venice after the Virgin Mary. The campiello was quiet and deserted the day I visited this shrine.


Cannaregio 4933


This shrine dates back to at least 1600 or so and has been a focal point and gathering spot for the neighborhood ever since.

The shrine originally contained a "bella" statue of San Antonio but at some point, it was stolen. The statue inside today is a relatively modern replacement. There are more flowers inside the shrine too.


Cannaregio 4933


I like the colors and random placement of these fake flowers~


Cannaregio 4933

Speaking of colors, Venice has the most beautiful bricks I've ever seen.

Cannaregio 4933


Cannaregio 4933

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

April 18, 2014

Still Life

When I saw this week's PhotoHunt theme, I immediately thought of Tom Robbins' great novel, Still Life with Woodpecker, which begins with a quote from Erica Jong: "There are no such things as still lifes."

I guess it depends on how you define "still" or inanimate. When I think of still life in art, fruit and flowers come to mind. They can't get up and walk around, but they are alive and changing, not really still.

Anyway, here's an interesting painting by Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) called "Still Life in a Venetian Landscape." The apples are "still" but the lagoon landscape is not! This was done during the artist's neo-Baroque phase; a couple of his more surrealist paintings are in the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice. I like the colors - you can click on it to see it larger.


Still life in Venetian landscape


I found very few photos I'd taken in Venice that work for this theme. Though I guess technically a street shrine might be called still life? I did find a few more classic still life views.

A basket of pomegranates and squash at a trattoria by a canal~


still life


Still Life with Digital Clock, taken at the B&B where I stayed the last time I was in Venice.


still life


Another scene from the B&B~


still life

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

April 10, 2014

Madonna Nikopeia

This week's PhotoHunt theme is "stones."

Here's a Venetian mystery concerning precious stones and a beautiful icon of the Madonna.

The Madonna Nikopeia can be found in the Basilica di San Marco. The Venetians love her and even when the Basilica is filled with tourists and seems more like a museum than a church, you will see people praying to the Nikopeia in her chapel to the left of the high altar where St. Mark lies. I always visit her soon after I arrive in Venice - she's one of my favorite things in that city.

She came to Venice in 1204 as one of the many treasures the Venetians stole from Constantinople when they sacked that city during the infamous Fourth Crusade. Even before she arrived in Venice, she was believed to work miracles and was much revered by the Byzantines who would carry her along as they marched into battle (Nikopeia means "bringer of victory"; it's sometimes spelled Nicopeia or Nikopoeia).

Legend has it that she was painted by St. Luke.

Jan Morris wrote,

"the Nikopeia, the most holy prize of empire. If she served the Byzantine emperors well and long, she served the Venetian Republic better and longer. The Venetians adopted her, like the Byzantines, as their Madonna of Victory; before her image supplicatory masses were held at the beginning of wars, masses of thanksgiving after victories."

For several years, I wondered about her jewelry and its story. The photo below shows what she looks like today. There are precious stones embedded in the frame around the icon, but none on the icon itself.


Madonna Nikopeia


But up until about 1980 or so, she looked like this (the image was adorned with many gem stones and pearls, votive offerings from Venetians whose prayers she had answered).

What is that large blue stone above her head? Gorgeous! It looks like she's wearing a diamond necklace and even Baby Jesus has a necklace.


Madonna Nikopeia


At some point, the jewelry was removed from the icon and moved into the Basilica's Treasury where it is on display. Behind plexiglass, unfortunately for photographers!


Madonna Nikopeia

Why did they remove the jewelry? It was a mystery to me, but not long ago I might have found the answer while reading Jan Morris' "The Venetian Empire - A Sea Voyage".

Morris writes that in 1979, the Nikopeia's jewels were stolen by two young Italians (from the mainland, not from Venice) who managed to hide at closing time and get themselves locked inside the church overnight. They rushed out the door with the gem stones when the Basilica opened the next morning.

The thieves were later caught and the jewels were returned. My guess is that the Basilica decided to move them into the Treasury for safe keeping instead of returning them to the icon. And they must have restored the icon which was probably damaged when the jewelry was removed.

Jan Morris also shares a great personal story about the theft:

"I happened to be in Venice on the day of the theft and went along to the Basilica to attend the Mass of repentance and supplication that the Patriarch immediately held. Never was history so poignantly played out. A profound sense of sadness filled the fane, nuns sighed and priests blew their noses heavily, as they mourned the desecration of that particularly cherished piece of stolen property."

Madonna Nikopeia


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

April 4, 2014

PhotoHunt: Rocks

Rocks line the canal on the beautiful island of Torcello~

Torcello


Another view. The handpainted sign says "Rio Chiuso" (canal closed). I think there was some maintenance or repair work going on.


Torcello

Also on Torcello, one of my favorite shrines. The Madonna is standing in a rock garden. The plants look like hens and chicks (that's what we call them here in the USA, not sure what the Venetians call them). They look happy growing in the rocks.


Torcello


The same shrine, two years later. The blue paint has faded, but the plants in the rock garden are doing fine (the hens have had some chicks).


Torcello


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

March 29, 2014

PhotoHunt: Trees

There aren't a lot of trees in Venice, but there are more than you might expect. Here are a few.

A sweet little tree next to a vera da pozzo~


trees in Venice


A sculpture surrounded by trees. Not sure who this guy is (he looks like he's doing calisthenics)~


trees in Venice


Several trees plus the bell tower of San Vidal.
This one was taken from a vaporetto going down the Grand Canal~


San Vidal


And here's my favorite. One of my walking tour guide books mentions in passing that "at the 17th century Palazzo Surian, a tree can be seen sticking out from a window."

Yes, it can but why? Another Venetian mystery!


trees in Venice


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

March 6, 2014

Two More Reliefs

Earlier this year, I wrote about Campo Do Pozzi and showed a photo of the relief on the side of the vera da pozzo (well head) that shows two wells.

There are a couple of other reliefs on that same well. There's something poignant about these weather-beaten saints (and I learned their identities from one of my books; I didn't recognize them on sight).

Both of these images are related to churches in parishes close to Campo Do Pozzi. The church of San Martino is still standing, but Santa Ternita was demolished in the 19th century. I've started looking for info about Santa Ternita and hope to do a post about that church soon. :)

San Martino

Campo Do Pozzo


Three Angels symbolizing the Holy Trinity (Santa Ternita)


Campo San Pozzo

March 1, 2014

PhotoHunt: Steps

There are so many steps in Venice (all those bridges!), but I didn't have a lot of photos of them. I did find a few though.

Here are some steps with a wooden barricade at the bottom. Check out all those green plants growing from the stones. Nature prevails!


Venice steps


Steps leading up to some apartments. More green plants here. It's good to live in upper stories in Venice since ground-level apartments can fall victim to acqua alta (flooding).


Venice steps


A set of steps in this photo and also the high rise sidewalks that you walk on when acqua alta rises. Stepping up onto these platforms can be challenging!


Venice steps


These steps look slippery~


Venice steps


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

About Me

Seven trips to Venice so far and I’ve been inside 79 of the 149 churches. Now blogging about my November 2010 trip, church visits, street shrines, and art in Venice as well as life in the Tar Heel state. Read more

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AnnieA's bookshelf: read

Venice for PleasureThe Remedy: A NovelMy Jesus Year: A Rabbi's Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own FaithRough WeatherThe ProfessionalNow and Then

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