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Sotoportego de la Madonna

San Polo 1286

Another nice shrine with fresh paint, this one has a history that dates back over 800 years. This San Polo sotoportego is supposedly the place where Pope Alexander III slept when he arrived in Venice in 1177. He came to Venice in disguise, exiled from Rome and on the run from Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.

The Pope put a special blessing here for anyone who comes inside and prays before the shrine, according to the wooden plaque above the entrance.

San Polo 1286

There are several other legends about this pope-on-the-run. One is that he worked as a janitor for six months at the convent of La Carita before someone recognized him and helped restore him to power. He also spent the night on the portico of the church of San Salvador. Eventually, the Venetian Republic (a neutral party in the dispute) intervened and negotiated reconciliation between the two enemies, and the spot where they kissed and made up is marked with a stone on the floor of Basilica di San Marco (another floor detail to track down).

There's a little statue of the sleeping Pope inside the shrine at the bottom.

San Polo 1286

2012 Update: Check out Yvonne's recent visit to this shrine. So many mysteries!

San Polo 1286

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Comments (3)


I love the stories behind such places. I don't recall seeing this shrine last summer, apparently we didn't explore San Polo as well as we thought!

Hi Anne, it's not that visible - close to the church of San Aponal but down a little calle. I don't think I would have seen it if I hadn't been looking for it! Annie

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Interesting story behind this shrine. I saw the flowers inside of your close-ups and immediately thought about one of your earlier entries on who places these flowers and are responsible for overseeing some of these wonderful shrines? As I'm looking through my photos I paid attention to the decorations on it because of your entry and I wonder each time about who actually cares for these wonderful shrines.

Thanks for the great read this morning Annie!

Hi Kathy,

It's funny because I've never seen anyone actually caring for a shrine but it's so obvious that people do - maybe someday I'll see them in action!

And congratulations to you for Photo of the Week on SlowTrav! Annie

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 9, 2008 11:13 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Santa Maria Maggiore.

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