Thursday, July 5, 2012

Santa Maria della Salute/Basilica of Good Health, Venice

On our final morning in Venice, we walked back out to Santa Maria della Salute or the Basilica of Good Health on the end of our little island. It was a nice round church with many sculptures and paintings inside.

Santa Maria della Salute

The name is from a rather dramatic history. In the summer of 1630, a plague swept through Venice. Being a cramped, hot city where people lived on top of one another, it is easy to see how devastating a plague would be. The whole city made a pilgrimage to San Marco on October 26, including the Doge. He made a humble prayer of supplication to Our Lady to spare the city. The city repeated this pilgrimage and supplication for 15 consecutive Saturdays and promised to build a church in honor of Mary of Good Health. They laid the foundation stone on April 1, 1631. The plague was eventually vanquished and the church was completed some fifty years later. Every year, at the end of November, they build a special bridge across the Grand Canal and commemorate the ending of the plague.

On our June visit, Jacob and Lucy enjoyed the plaza outside. They interpreted the lines of lighter stone as a maze. The children had fun following the lines.

Jacob confused about which way to go

Follow the leader (the pigeon isn't doing a very good job playing along)

The entrance doors are quite massive and were opened shortly after we arrived. We went inside to admire the art and architecture.

Doors which weren't so ornate

This donation box proudly proclaimed (in English) that there was no admission charged.

At least it's not an ATM, like some churches I have seen

Looking up from the donation box gives a wonderful view of the dome with a circle of statues. They are all Old Testament prophets.

View to the main altar

The dome with the prophets looking down on us

Walking around anti-clockwise (or counter-clockwise for you American readers), we came upon the baptismal font.

Featuring John the Baptist

Further on we saw some confessionals with a nice painting that inspired Lucy to pray.

The comfort of confession

Lucy prays for us

One of the side altars is dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua, built to invoke his protection in a war with Crete in 1652.

This was easily the prettiest side altar

The main altar is dedicated to Our Lady of Good Health and features a painting "recovered" from Crete is 1670. The carving above the altar represents the Virgin Mary saving Venice (the statue on the left) by driving away the plague (the statue on the right).

Main Altar

Venice is grateful; the plague is getting stabbed!

Also, a very ornate chair is found inside, though it was not clearly marked in the church or described in the guide books. It definitely looks like it was made for the bishop or for a pope.

Not for sitting by just anyone

Outside, we saw some more of the glorious exterior and the seminary next door.

Another side of the church

No entrance for tourists to the seminary

Then we headed back to the hotel to grab our luggage and catch the train to Verona.

No comments:

Post a Comment