Festa della Madonna della Salute, commonly known as Festa della Salute, is a religious celebration taking place every year on November 21, in Venice.
The feast, dedicated in particular to the locals and less known by tourists, has a strong religious character, taking the form of a pilgrimage which starts from San Marco, from the Church of Santa Maria del Giglio, and ends in Dorsoduro, at the Church of Santa Maria della Salute, crossing the Grand Canal on a votive bridge specially built on boats for this occasion.
Festa della Salute, like many local holidays, commemorates a painful moment in Venice’s history – the epidemic from 1630-1631. The disease had been brought from Mantova in June of 1630 by some ambassadors sent to ask for help, and spread rapidly throughout the city, killing almost 50,000 people in about a year.
In the autumn of 1630, the Venetians organized a three-day procession involving more than 10,000 people, during which Nicolò Contarini, the Doge of Venice, invoked the help of the Virgin Mary and publicly promised to raise a church called Salute, if the city will get rid of the plague. In April, 1631, the Doge was killed by the disease, along with part of his family, shortly before the malady was eradicated.
The Church of Santa Maria della Salute was consecrated on November 21, 1687, and this date is celebrated today by Festa della Salute. The event, in its current form, brings joy first to the children, the neighborhood of the church being crowded with stalls where toys, sweets and balloons are sold.
FESTA DELLA SALUTE 2019 will take place, as usual, on November 21, with Holy Masses held in the Church of Santa Maria della Salute at every hour, between 6.00 am and 8.00 pm. At 10.00 am, the Mass will be celebrated by the Patriarch of Venice and, in the evening, starting with 10.00 pm, it will be held the Celebration of Compline (the evening prayer).