Inspired by a Spanish ceramic shrine my parents had in our home and by Annie's interesting blog posts on Venetian shrines, I set out to bring back from Venice or Andalucía my very own shrine.
While in Venice, and in the company of the lovely Anne, we came across a shop that sold replicas of sacred art found in Venetian churches. Most of the reproductions I saw were made in terracotta and had a rustic unfinished look that made them appear aged. Thinking about my childhood shrine, I asked the clerk if they did any work in ceramic and he informed me that they worked only in clay or wood.
While admiring all the different images, I spotted a beautiful Madonna and Child. The store clerk told us that it was from the church of the Madonna dell'Orto. I immediately fell in love with this sweet image and was tempted to buy it on the spot but Anne and I were headed to the train station to get her return ticket, and I didn't feel like lugging it around Venice.
I returned to the shop a few days later and asked the clerk for more information on the shrine and where specifically I would find it. He mentioned that it was located not in the church, as I was led to believe on my first visit to the shop, but in a campo nearby. I told him to hold the piece for me while I searched for the original shrine. Finding the shrine turned out to be an easy task; it was on a wall just around the corner from the church, in a quiet campiello.
Later in the afternoon I returned to the shop and bought the shrine and asked to have it shipped to my home. My Madonna was waiting for me when I returned home a month later. I found a perfect spot for her, in the shade to protect her from our scorching summers, and surrounded by a bush that I have trained on a trellis. She has been gracing (and blessing) my courtyard since December 8, the feast day of the Immaculate Conception.
The terracotta shrine on the floor of the shop.
A few weeks later it found a home in my courtyard.
A closer look.
The original shrine in its location on Via Larga Piave in Cannaregio.
The store front of Studio d'arte Vio in Cannaregio.