Every year since 1577, when the city of Venice was liberated from a terrible plague, the Feast of the Redeemer is celebrated in the third weekend of July. At first, the feast was a purely religious event, but over the centuries profane elements were added to the religious manifestations, and today the celebration includes a party, a regatta, and one of the most impressive fireworks display in the world.
The feast is also known as Festa Famosissima (Most Famous Feast).
Between 1575 and 1577, a merciless plague killed about one-third of Venice’s population. The epidemic spread rapidly throughout the city and was difficult to control due to the precarious conditions in which the people lived.
INTERESTING FACT: One of the victims of the 1576 epidemic was the painter Titian (Tiziano Vecellio). He died on August 27, 1576, and was interred in the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari.
The Doge Alvise I Mocenigo promised to build a grandiose church if the plague ended. On September 4, 1576, the Venetian Senate ordered the construction of a church dedicated to Christ the Redeemer (Il Redentore) on the Giudecca island. A year later, in July, the city was declared cured, and the Venetians initiated a new celebration called Festa del Redentore.
After the beautiful Church of Il Redentore was completed in 1592, on a project by the famous architect Andrea Palladio, the Venetians started to build a votive bridge on the occasion of the feast, between Fondamenta delle Zattere, in front of the Church of Spirito Santo, and the Giudecca island, in front of the newly built church.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
On the first day of the feast, a great party is held, completed in the evening by a spectacular fireworks display. The second day of the feast, Sunday, is reserved for religious service and for the Regatta of the Redeemer (Regata del Redentore), a race of typical Venetian boats.
July 16, Saturday:
- 7.00 pm, the opening of the Thanksgiving Bridge;
- 11.30 pm, fireworks display in the Saint Mark’s Basin.
July 17, Sunday:
- between 4.00 pm and 6.00 pm, the Regatta of the Redeemer, on the Giudecca Canal;
- 7.00 pm – Votive Mass at the Church of Il Redentore, on the Giudecca island.
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