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December 2010 Archives

December 1, 2010

Festa della Salute


The church of Santa Maria della Salute was open for extended hours during the Festa culminating in the grand celebration on November 21 which fell on a Sunday this year. On Sunday, the church opened at 5:50 am and remained open until 10 that night, with hourly masses throughout the day starting at 6 am.

I went to Mass at La Salute for the first time on Saturday night, and the place was packed…grandmas, families, lots of kids, and even a few dogs (I loved seeing that). Outside the church, little kiosks were selling long white candles and people brought them into the church to light.

As Andrew commented on my last post, there is absolutely nothing touristy about this festival. Even so, I felt completely comfortable being there, tourist that I am. The Mass felt very different from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception masses that I’ve attended in San Marco, which were solemn and mysterious. This seemed more of a celebration and social event, it felt holy but also friendly. A happy gathering.


Once you are inside the church, forget the Titians and the Tintorettos. All eyes are on the icon of the Black Madonna on the high altar and that’s where Mass happens. This icon is one of three in Venice that were supposedly painted by St Luke and it’s touching to see how revered she is. More about her later.

dome of La Salute

Continue reading "Festa della Salute" »

December 3, 2010

PhotoHunt: Hard-To-Find


This week's theme is "Hard-To-Find."

A great theme for me since Venice is a maze and many things are hard-to-find.

The first time I went to Venice, it was hard to find the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli. It's very small and tucked away, and I was so happy when I finally found it as it's one of the most beautiful little buildings I've ever seen.


And then on my most recent trip last month, I was looking for another church, San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti. I knew where the church was but what was hard-to-find was the entrance. The main door is always locked, and you have to access the church from inside the public hospital, which is a crazy maze too. I walked around the hospital for a long time but finally found this church.

San Lazzaro

And here's another one, the church of Santa Croce on Giudecca. I could see the back of this church in the distance behind a wall, but what was hard-to-find was the street that would take me to the other side of the wall. I finally found an unlocked gate and was able to get there. This church could use some TLC. :)

Santa Croce

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend!

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December 6, 2010



Various traditions are part of this festa…walking across the votive bridge, of course, and lighting candles inside La Salute, and buying balloons for the kiddies.

It’s also the only time of year when they open the main doors of the church, and it’s such an amazing sight when you walk in through those rather than the side doors open the rest of the year. I took this photo early Sunday morning before the crowds and the torrential rain came.


Most of the time when you visit this church, the central floor under the dome is roped off, but during the festa, the ropes were gone. I’d read somewhere that it’s good luck to touch your foot to the central circle right under the dome, and when I saw other people doing it, I had to do it too. The inscription around the circle reads Unde Origo Inde Salus (whence the origin, thence the salvation and health), a reference to the belief that Venice’s very origins are connected to the Virgin (legend has it that Venice was founded on the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25) in 421).



Continue reading "Traditions" »

December 8, 2010

Shrines by the votive bridge

Of course, I loved the fact that there were shrines on both entrances to the votive bridge, one on each side of the Grand Canal. On the San Marco side was this green and white tabernacle flanked by stone lion heads.


And on the Dorsoduro side of the bridge, there was this large shrine-within-a-shrine.


Daniel asked how long it took to take the bridge down. Not very long, I don't think. It closed Monday night at 11 pm and they took it down in the middle of the night. Early Tuesday morning I walked down there and it was gone until next year.


December 10, 2010

PhotoHunt: Funny


This week's theme is "Funny."

When I was in Venice last month, I had lunch outdoors at Trattoria Busa alle Torre on the island of Murano. There was a sign on the door that said "please do not feed the pigeons" in a bunch of different languages.

Well, these two pigeons took matters into their own hands. Before I could shoo them away, they both took a bite of the bread in the basket. I thought it was pretty funny (and I didn't want the bread anyway).


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December 14, 2010

Madonna della Salute

A few shrines that contain an image of the icon from the high altar of the church of Santa Maria della Salute~



Here's one with some helpful graffiti, in English no less: "Don't Worry!" ~



Continue reading "Madonna della Salute" »

December 17, 2010

PhotoHunt: Male


This week's theme is "Male."

A few from the streets of Venice.

Not sure who this is but he's definitely male. Seems to be walking some kind of sea monster on a leash~


Another unknown male~


Mosaic saint. The beard lets us know he's male~


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December 20, 2010

For Palisandre

Earlier this year, I received a nice comment on my San Zaccaria post from fellow lover of Venice, Palisandre, who asked if I had a close-up of the Madonna above the portal that leads into Campo San Zaccaria. I had a photo of that beautiful relief but not a close-up, so I put that on my "to do" list on my recent trip.


This is one of the nicest pieces of outdoor sculptures in Venice. It's a late Gothic work that was done around 1430 and shows the Madonna and Child in between John the Baptist and St. Mark with San Zaccaria above them.

Thanks to Palisandre for inspiring me to re-visit her. She's just as beautiful as the Bellini Madonna inside the church. And I love the expression on the baby's face and the way his hand is on her shoulder.


Continue reading "For Palisandre" »

December 22, 2010

San Teodoro

San Teodoro

I’d read about this Renaissance church and seen a few photos of it, and I was so excited to finally see it in person. What a weird little church, tucked away in a small courtyard right behind the apse of the Basilica di San Marco. It mystifies me as to why they felt the need to build another church in this location!

San Teodoro was built in 1486 by Giorgio Spavento (an architect sometimes credited for the famous spiral staircase, Scala Contarini del Bovolo). The little church is behind San Marco, and its right side is attached to the back of the Doge’s Palace. The brick façade was originally covered with frescoes which are long gone, and the doorway is surrounded with some fine floral carvings. The mosaic above the door shows San Teodoro (St. Theodore) fighting the dragon; this mosaic was moved here from the demolished church of Santa Maria Nova.


In the 16th century, architect Jacopo Sansovino built a huge buttress to support San Marco; this thing runs right into the front of the little church. Embedded in the buttress is a fascinating collection of stone and marble fragments from various restorations of San Marco over the centuries. A stones of Venice collage.



In “Another Venice,” Jacopo Fasolo describes this little courtyard:

“The hotchpotch effect is a perfect example of the Venetian expression “andar per le fodere,” that is reaching hidden areas by following secret paths, thus heightening the visitor’s sense of discovery and expectation.” He speculates that this area was a secret passage for the doge and his entourage, perhaps for security reasons after a couple of doges were assassinated while on procession around the city. Perhaps the doge felt the need for a small and secret church too?

The Fasolo book is wonderful, by the way, full of info about lesser-known places along with nice watercolors by the author.

Continue reading "San Teodoro" »

December 24, 2010

PhotoHunt: Circle


This week's theme is "Circle."

Happy holidays everyone!

A few circles from my recent trip to Venice:

Mosaic floor in Basilica di San Marco~

floor in San Marco

Byzantine angel in the natural history museum~


More mundane but no less sublime~


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This page contains all entries posted to Churches in Venice in December 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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