Madonna della Salute festival

Santa Maria della Salute

Santa Maria della Salute, Venice

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(November 21st)

The "Virgin's Celebration" is a Catholic event that, in general, does not attract many non-Catholic tourists.  This celebration commemorates the terrifying plague epidemic of 1629 to 1631. German and French troops carried the plague from Mantua, in 1629. Many people died as a result of the plague, for example it is estimated that over 11.000 died in only one month, in November.
Venetians decided to build this basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary – who for various reasons was believed to be the protector of the Republic – to protect themselves from the plague. The project was given to the architect Baldassarre Longhena. Venice wanted a new majestic church to celebrate the Virgin Mary and the Serenissima. The Church was completed in 1681.
Nowadays, the festival takes place every year on the 21st of November. A temporary bridge of boats is built which crosses the Grand Canal, connecting San Moisè and Santa Maria del Giglio. Thousands of people cross the bridge each year, to go to the main altar and thank and ask the Virgin Mary to protect their health.

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