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December 2011 Archives

December 2, 2011

PhotoHunt: Ripped

This week's theme is "Ripped."

This theme had me stumped at first - I had to do a lot of browsing to find these!

First up is this odd piece of street art (or graffiti) in Venice. An enormous strawberry with the note "Cibo per la Mente" which translates to "Food for Thought." Hmm.

But over on the right side, you can see where there was a black-and-white poster that is partially ripped off, leaving those weird legs behind.

Cibo per la Mente

And this one, taken recently, shows my garage. The squirrels ripped all this stuff off the bottom of the door so they could get inside and eat the bird seed. Rascals!


This is from my trip to New Orleans. Commander's Palace restaurant offers 25-cent cocktails during lunch. They limit you to three so you won't get ripped. :) This is a cosmo and it was delicious.

25-cent martinis at lunch

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


December 3, 2011

San Pantalon

San Pantalon

This church is fascinating and I've got so many photos that it’s going to take more than one post, so here’s part one.

Part Two: Capella del Santo Chiodo
Part Three: Oratory of Madonna di Loreto

No one knows for sure when this church was founded, but it was rebuilt for the first time in 1009. So it’s an ancient church and one of the oldest parishes in Venice, though the current building dates only to the mid-17th century. By that time, the Venetian Republic was in full-scale economic decline which explains why this church and about six others re-built around the same time are unfinished; there were no wealthy donors to pay for marble façades to cover the bare brick fronts of these churches. The San Pantalon campanile was rebuilt in the 18th century.

San Pantalon

San Pantalon was a 4th century doctor saint from Nicomedia, in what is now Turkey. You can see the saint inside the church in Veronese’s final painting, San Pantalon Healing a Child, as well as in the church’s most famous work, its incredible ceiling. Venetian artist, Giovanni Antonio Fumiani (1645-1710), spent almost 25 years constructing this ceiling which consists of 40 separate canvases combined to create an amazingly unified work that depicts the martyrdom and glorification of San Pantalon. A large interactive reproduction can be seen here that gives some sense of how extraordinary it is. Be sure to take some coins for the light box that illuminates this ceiling!

There are other paintings by Fumiani in San Pantalon altars, and you can also find his work in the churches of San Rocco and San Zaccaria. There’s a legend that he fell to his death from the scaffolding just as he was completing the San Pantalon ceiling, but historians don’t seem to agree about whether this story is true. I hope it’s not. Fumiani is buried in San Pantalon along with his great masterpiece.

As impressive as the Fumiani ceiling is, there’s some equally incredible art in a couple of chapels tucked away behind the main sanctuary. Coming up soon are posts about the "Capella del Santo Chiodo" (Chapel of the Holy Nail) and the "Oratory of the Madonna di Loreto."

San Pantalon

To find San Pantalon, walk north from Campo Santa Margherita and you'll come to this bridge which will take you over to the church. This photo below was taken in 2008 when the campo in front of the church was being restored. Click "continue reading" below for the church's Opening Hours.

San Pantalon

Continue reading "San Pantalon" »

December 4, 2011

Capella del Santo Chiodo

San Pantalon

The Capella del Santo Chiodo (Chapel of the Holy Nail) in the church of San Pantalon is such a wonderful little place. Admission to the church itself is free, but they ask for a one euro donation to visit this chapel. It's well worth it not just to see the altar that housed one of Venice’s most revered relics but also because of the amazing treasure trove of early Venetian art that’s tucked away back there.

Let’s start with the relic, the holy nail, which began its Venetian journey in the now demolished church and convent of Santa Chiara (it was in the sestiere of Santa Croce where the Piazzale Roma police station is now). How the Franciscan nuns of Santa Chiara came into possession of this relic is another charming Venetian story.

In 1270, a pilgrim visited Santa Chiara and gave the nuns a box and a ring, instructing them to keep the box safe without opening it, and to only give the box to someone who came along with an identical ring. Three hundred years passed, no one came, and I guess the nuns couldn’t take the suspense anymore and decided to open the box where they found a sacred nail used in the Crucifixion. A letter in the box revealed that the pilgrim who had brought the holy nail to the nuns was St. Louis IX, King of France, who had gotten the nail from Sant’ Elena (who had traveled to the Holy Land and found the True Cross). None of the dates in this story add up, by the way, but no worries, it’s still a great story. All that matters is that Venice ended up with an incredible relic.

When Santa Chiara was demolished, the sacred nail and its Gothic altar were moved to the church of San Pantalon. The altar is fantastic especially the little niche housing an exquisite early 14th century carving of the Deposition scene (top photo, you can click to see it larger).

I couldn’t see the holy nail and thought that perhaps it was only revealed on Holy Days, but then my UK blog friend, Andrew, told me that when he visited San Pantalon and asked to see the nail, someone told him that it had been stolen!

San Pantalon

On an adjacent wall is a glorious painting, Coronation of the Virgin (1444) by Antonio Vivarini and Giovanni d'Alemagna (brothers-in-law who were both part of the Vivarini workshop and often painted collaboratively). This painting was commissioned for San Pantalon’s high altar where it hung for a couple of centuries. I guess than in the 17th century when the church was rebuilt and “went for Baroque,” they moved it since it’s small and would be lost in the huge and imposing altar that’s there now. Fine with me, it’s much easier to see in this little chapel. This painting was restored by Save Venice in 1996 and it looks wonderful.

San Pantalon

And then on the opposite wall are three paintings by Paolo Veneziano. In the middle is the lovely and haunting Madonna of the Poppy (1325). I love her!

A few more photos from the chapel are below the jump (click “continue reading”).

San Pantalon

Continue reading "Capella del Santo Chiodo" »

December 8, 2011

Oratory of Madonna di Loreto (in San Pantalon)

San Pantalon

Continuing with our visit to the church of San Pantalon…when you leave the Capella del Santo Chiodo, turn right and go back to this very quiet and dark oratory. It’s a recreation of the Santa Casa (Holy House) that can be found in Loreto, Italy.

This is another great story. The Santa Casa was Mary’s house in Nazareth, where she was born and grew up, and where the Annunciation took place. Her house was a Holy Land place of pilgrimage for centuries but then in the 13th century, angels swooped in, picked the house up, and moved it to Italy. In some versions of the story, it stopped off in Croatia and elsewhere first, but it‘s now in Loreto where they built a basilica around it. A photo of the Basilica of Loreto and a more complete version of the story is here. December 10 (this weekend) will be the annual celebration of the house’s flight to Loreto.

Evidently, there’s some scientific evidence that the Santa Casa really did come from Nazareth, and some think that “human” angels dismantled it and brought it to Italy after the Holy Land fell into Muslim hands in the Middle Ages. And in the early 20th century, the Madonna di Loreto became the patron saint of pilots; Charles Lindbergh carried her image with him across the Atlantic and she also went on an Apollo mission to the moon.

So in the 18th century, the Venetians decided to re-create the Santa Casa in the church of San Pantalon. The oratory was consecrated on March 25, 1744 (no accident on this choice of dates, I’m sure, since March 25 is the feast of the Annunciation and also the day that Venice was founded in 421).

The Black Madonna on the altar is a copy of the one in Loreto; the inscription on the altar screen translates to “And the Word is Made Flesh.” The frescoes were done by Pietro Longhi, best known for his charming scenes of 18th century Venetian daily life. It’s a strange and fascinating little place; I loved visiting it.

San Pantalon

Continue reading "Oratory of Madonna di Loreto (in San Pantalon)" »

December 9, 2011

PhotoHunt: Christmas Decorations

Thank you to TNChick for hosting PhotoHunt for all these years, and thanks to Gattina of Keyhole Pictures for keeping it going now that TNChick has retired. Here's a list of upcoming themes.

This week's theme is Christmas (or other) Decorations, and I've got a couple that I took in Venice. I've never actually been in Venice on Christmas Day, but I have traveled there several times in December.

Speaking of, A Lover of Venice has a new page on his website called "Christmas in Venice" with some wonderful photos of the holiday lights and some amazing presepi (nativity scenes).

Here's a miniature snow village that I saw in a hotel window; it was animated with sleighs going around and people skiing. Very cool.

snow village

I know I've posted this little blue tree before, but I love it so much. It reminds me of Charlie Brown's tree. You can also see Santa hanging on the wall behind the laundry.

blue christmas

Thanks for visiting, have a good weekend, and happy photohunting!

December 15, 2011

Newest and Oldest

This shrine, installed in 2007, might be the newest shrine in Venice. It's interesting that they continue to add more street shrines (it makes me happy). This one is not far from San Rocco and the Frari; I wonder if this little corner had a pissotta before the shrine came along? Perhaps that's what the shrine is sitting on?

There's electric lighting and a Madonna and Child inside, a couple of angel carvings on the tabernacle, and an inscription, "Ave Maria Gratia Plena" (Hail Mary Full of Grace).

Dorsoduro 3078

Dorsoduro 3078

Dorsoduro 3078

Continue reading "Newest and Oldest" »

December 16, 2011

PhotoHunt: Natural

This week's PhotoHunt theme is "Natural."

I love to visit the Magic Wings Butterfly House at the NC Museum of Life and Science. It's a large conservatory that recreates the natural habitat of various tropical flora and fauna. It's especially fun to visit in the winter because it's toasty warm in there, and it's nice to see so much green when everything outside is brown. Here are a few shots from a recent visit:

Not sure what kind of butterfly this is, but he was very cooperative about posing~

Magic Wings Butterfly House

This very cool plant is called a Chenille or Red Hot Cat's Tail. It's native to New Guinea and Maylaysia~

Butterfly House

This is a malachite butterfly hanging upside-down. These are native to South America. What a beautiful creature!

upside down

Gattina of Keyhole Pictures hosts a Photohunt each week; a list of upcoming themes is here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend!


December 23, 2011

PhotoHunt: Lights

This week's PhotoHunt theme is "Lights."

A few scenes from Venice...

A glass and light baptismal font in the Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato on the island of Murano. This church, built in 1140, is one of the oldest in the lagoon, and the font is modern. I like the contrast.


Another glass and light display, this one is at the San Marco vaporetto (water bus) stop. Gave off some wild looking blue reflections~


Here's an example of what natural light can do to the surface of the canals~


Thanks for visiting and happy holidays! You can find more photohunters and see a list of upcoming themes here.


December 30, 2011


Happy Holidays! I hope that everyone is having a wonderful time. And best wishes for a peaceful 2012.

This 13th century carving of the Nativity scene is above the Porta dei Fiori entrance to the Basilica di San Marco. An interesting scene, rather non-traditional in that Jesus looks more like a little boy than an infant, and Mary's posture is unique. :) I think those are little sheep peering out of the bottom of the manger.


Continue reading "Nativity" »

This page contains all entries posted to Churches in Venice in December 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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