Festa della Salute 2023 will take place on Tuesday, November 21, 2023, in the beautiful city of Venice.
Festa della Madonna della Salute, commonly known as Festa della Salute, is a religious feast which takes place every year on November 21 – the day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in many places in the Veneto region, but also in Trieste and the area of Istria and Dalmatia, in Croatia.
The feast, dedicated in particular to locals and less known by tourists, has a strong religious character. The celebration takes the form of a pilgrimage which starts from the San Marco sestiere (district), from the Church of Santa Maria del Giglio, and ends in the sestiere of Dorsoduro, in front of the Church of Santa Maria della Salute, crossing the Grand Canal on a votive bridge specially built for this occasion.
Festa della Madonna della Salute, in its current form, brings joy first to children, the neighborhood of the Church of Santa Maria della Salute being crowded with stalls, where toys, sweets and balloons are sold.
SHORT HISTORY OF FESTA DELLA SALUTE
Festa della Madonna della Salute, like many local holidays, commemorates a painful moment in the history of Venice – the bubonic plague epidemic which struck the northern Italy in 1630.
The disease was brought to Venice from Mantua in June 1630, by some ambassadors sent to ask the Serenissima for help. Although the messengers were quarantined on the island of San Servolo, some people came into contact with the guests and got infected.
The epidemic was virulent, and spread rapidly throughout the city, killing almost 50,000 Venetians 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, asked the Virgin Mary for help and made a solemn vow to raise a church dedicated to the Madonna della Salute, if the city will get rid of the plague.
In April, 1631, the Doge died of the disease, along with part of his family, shortly before the malady was eradicated. After the pestilence was over, the government decreed to repeat every year the procession in honor of the Madonna della Salute.
The Church of Santa Maria della Salute was built starting with 1631 on a design by the architect Baldassare Longhena. Due to the sandy soil, which could not support the massive structure, the works took a long time and the church was completed only in 1687, five years after Longhena’s death.
The Church of Santa Maria della Salute was consecrated on November 21, a date which is celebrated today by Festa della Madonna della Salute.
Being a feast established by the Serenissima, the celebration still takes place in the former cities of the ancient Republic of Venice, including Trieste and the area of Istria and Dalmatia, in Croatia.
In fact, the Venetian Republic favored the construction throughout its territory of many sanctuaries dedicated to the Madonna della Salute, which today are still popular destinations for pilgrimages held on November 21.
FESTA DELLA SALUTE 2023 CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Festa della Salute 2023 will begin on Saturday, November 18, when the votive wooden bridge will be open, in the presence of the Patriarch of Venice, and other civil and military authorities.
On Tuesday, November 21, Holy Masses will be 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, the Celebration of Compline (evening prayer) will take place.
HOW TO GET TO THE CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA DELLA SALUTE
The closest vaporetto stop is Salute, located right in front of the Church of Santa Maria della Salute, on the waterbus Line 1.
However, on the day of the feast, considering also the opening of the votive bridge, the area will be crowded, and is probably more suitable to take the vaporetto only to the Accademia stop, located about 650 meters away from the church, on the waterbus Lines 1 and 2, and then continue on foot.
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