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.