Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Festa della Santa Maria della Salute, This Evening

Almost as important as the vendors of candles at this festa are those of balloons; no Venetian child goes home without one.

The crowds and traffic on Rio Terrà ai Saloni extended to Fondamenta Zattere

The view down Rio Terrà dei Catecumeni

If the Venetian Republic could be said to have had a "state religion", this was its primary sacrament: a profitable transaction.

In the background is Titian's painting of the Pentecost, with each disciple being lit like a candle by the Holy Spirit

The day after tomorrow (Friday) I'll post more photos of the all-important candles inside the church--and those seemingly indefatigable youths who tend to them.


  1. I have always wanted to attend this event, but your fabulous photos have elevated my desire to a "must" attend!

    What kind of balloon did Sandro get? ;)

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

    1. This past Wednesday I also came to feel it was a "must" attend.

      Our first year here it was raining all day, which quite literally dampened enthusiasm all around the church.

      Last year we were in the US on November 21.

      But this year I was struck by how much this seems to be one of the only two large truly Venetian festivals left--the other is Festa del Redentore. But because Redentore is outdoors and much more spread out, I can imagine a visitor to the city still feeling rather "out of it", or on the outside looking in. Unless you can get invited by a Venetian onto their boat for the fireworks, or to one of their outdoor dinner tables, you could easily feel yourself drifting on the fringes of the activity.

      Festa della Salute, however, seems much more intimate--not just inside the church, but even in the crush of people amid the booths surrounding the church. And every Venetian seems to go to it--even if they never set foot in a church on any other day. When I asked Venetians I ran into the day after the event if they attended, they all answered with a kind of "Why of course!" tone that made it seem I was foolish even to ask.

      As opposed to Carnevale, which has no intimate significance to any Venetian I've ever met, the Festa della Salute still matters to people who live here.

    2. Thanks for you comment, Susie, and I forgot to answer that Sandro picked out a Light'ning McQueen balloon.