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Santa Marina

Santa Marina

This beautiful shrine commemorates a demolished church that used to be in this Castello campo. Founded in 1130, the church was originally dedicated to Saints Liberal and Alexis but was rededicated to Santa Marina when her body was placed on the high altar of the church in 1231 after the Venetians stole her from Constantinople. These "pious thefts" are strange and recurring events in Venice's history; for whatever reason, stealing the body of San Marco in 828 started a trend that continued for centuries.

Santa Marina (aka Marina the Monk) is a very interesting 5th century saint from Lebanon who entered a monastery when she was very young, disguised as a boy, and no one knew she was a woman until decades later when she died and the monks were preparing her body for burial. Legend has that it was quite a shock when they discovered the truth!

During her life, she was falsely accused of fathering a child and accepted her punishment without protest and ended up raising the child who grew up to be a monk too. Marina was buried in a grotto at the monastery in Lebanon where she is still honored today, but at some point her body was stolen and taken to Constantinople, where it was later stolen again by the Venetians. She is usually depicted in art with the child who she did not father, as she is inside this shrine.

Several doges were buried in this church which had a great collection of art and was the parish church of the master Giovanni Bellini.

The church was suppressed in 1818 and for a brief time, it was a wine shop and tavern. There are funny stories about waiters and customers shouting, “a jug in the chapel of the Holy Sacrament” and such. And then the church was demolished in 1820 and private houses built on the site; the doges were moved to San Zanipolo and the relics of Santa Marina were moved to Santa Maria Formosa.

Santa Marina

Santa Marina

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Comments (5)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie: An interesting looking shrine and you took some great photos. I think it is so fascinating to learn about Santa Marina's life (especially how she was able to conceal her gender until her death). I can only imagine what a shock it must have been for the other monks.

The theft of bodies is definitely an interesting piece of history. I'm curious why that is.

Thank you for sharing it with us.

It sounds like one big soap opera or pass the hot potato game stealing bodies and moving them from one place to another. Interesting story and great photos!

Fascinating post! Who needs Hollywood and soap operas when we have real life stories like this one. It's very interesting to learn the story behind the shrines that we see throughout Italy.


What an intriguing story! Those "pious thefts" crack me up. Funny how often that sort of thing happens in history...to the victor go the spoils - bodies, works of art, oil... ;)

Anne, you are sure right about that!

I really liked these photos. The blues are beautiful and a nice change from the red colors.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 7, 2008 11:51 AM.

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