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Corte Michiel

Castello 4593

A gorgeous shrine with an interesting connection to the history of the shrines of Venice.

This corte in Castello was the birthplace of Doge Domenico Michiel, who ruled Venice from 1118-1130. He was a medieval hero who led the Venetian fleet to victory in a number of decisive Mediterranean battles, defeating the Egyptians, taking control of Tyre, and greatly expanding Venice’s territory and trade routes.

In 1128, Doge Michiel decreed that lamps should be lit each evening in all the city’s shrines, a public works project of sorts that made Venice the first city in the world to have street lights. The decree specified that parish priests were responsible for lighting the lamps each night and that the government would pay for the oil and the lamps. How cool to think about wandering around Venice after dark with the only lights being those in the shrines.

Castello 4593

While traveling around the Holy Land defeating infidels, Doge Michiel picked up a few interesting souvenirs that can still be seen in Venice today. The first is the enormous rock that resides on the high altar of the Baptistery of the Basilica di San Marco. I remember the first time I saw this thing….it looks so out of place next to all the polished marble and mosaics because it’s basically just this huge slab of rough granite that must weigh a ton. Doge Michiel hauled it home because it’s the rock that Jesus stood on when he gave the Sermon of the Mount.

The other relic that he brought back is even quirkier. San Donato is a 4th century dragon-slaying saint, similar to St. George, and Doge Michiel brought the saint’s relics back to Venice where they reside in church of San Donato on Murano. But he not only delivered the saint, he also brought the bones of the dragon the saint killed (!) and those bones are hanging on the wall behind the high altar (that area has been roped off when I’ve visited this church, so I haven’t seen the dragon bones yet!).

Doge Michiel is unusual in that he didn’t die in office like most doges, he retired and entered the monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore, and his tomb is in that church.

The image in the Corte Michiel shrine is “Cuore Immacolato di Maria,” the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

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Comments (14)

Interesting entry. Amazing that at that time he was Doge for so many years. That's impressive, he deserves a beautiful shrine

That is very interesting. Venetians were well-ahead of their time:-)

Hi Annie,
nice one again. Is this the corte Michiel in Castello near calle delle Rasse? Because there are at least 3 corte with the same name (you know Venice...)
I'll send you a picture of the bones.
Have a nice evening,

Angie and M, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. :)

AnnaLivia, yes it's close to Calle della Rasse. And thank you SO much for sending the photos! I've been so curious to know what they looked like. They look like whale bones to me, but maybe whales and dragons are related. :)

What a beautiful shrine! I love it! It radiates warmness..
How interesting that Venice was the first city in the world with street lights, I like this Doge. And I've never heard of another saint that slayed a dragon, San Donato..very interesting.


Fascinating! I would love to see dragon's bones -- I really must visit Murano and see this church!

Oh, I would love to find this shrine when I am there in May. It is so beautiful. Can you possibly email me how to find it, and also where the church is on Murano. The last time we visited Murano, we did not visit any churches, so that would be a real treat. I so enjoy reading your blog.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, I found the history about Doge Michiel and about how his decree made Venice the first City in the world to have street lamps really interesting. And that would be a very cool visual, seeing Venice with these flickering lights glimmering in the dark next to these beautiful shrines. That's a pretty shrine and I love the lace below it too. Thanks so much for sharing.

Thanks Candi and Kathy. Candi, you are right...it's a warm shrine.

SandraC, you'd love this church! In addition to the bones, it has mosaics and the most beautiful floors of any church I've ever seen.

SandraK, I just sent you an email. :)

Barb Cabot:

I am amazed every time I come here. It's the best learning site for Venice and the surrounding islands. I feel like I'm on a virtual walking tour with you. Thank you so much for a lovely walk today.

Barb, thank you so much for your kind words. :)

Fascinating story about the Doge and the souvenirs he brought to Venice. I'd love to visit San Donato on my next visit and see the dragon bones!

Lovely shrine, I love the delicate white tablecloth.

I have been very pleased to find in your blog so many informations about Corte Michiel.
As I have visited Venice during one week, based in Calle delle Rasse, I have made a slideshow about Calle delle Rasse and Corte Michiel. And I have used your informations about Doge Domenico Michiel:

Hi Anthony,

Thanks for letting me know - glad to help. I enjoyed watching your slide show!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 30, 2010 12:35 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Venice in 1911.

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