Venice Travel Guide

Venice Performing Arts

Festa della Madonna della Salute

  • Cultural Festivals

Published 06/20/2007

Fodor's Review

This thanksgiving festival celebrates not a harvest, but survival. Every November 21, Venetians make a pilgrimage to the church of Madonna della Salute, where they light candles to thank the Virgin Mary for liberating the city from the plague of 1630–31 and to pray for health in the year to come. It was while the plague was raging that the church was commissioned, but before the saint could intervene, nearly one third of the city's 145,000 inhabitants were dead. To make the pilgrims' progress more expedient, a temporary bridge is erected across the Grand Canal between Campo Santa Maria del Giglio (near the Gritti Palace hotel) and the sestiere of Dorsoduro. The weather is usually cold and foggy, and the winter season is traditionally ushered in with a traditional stew called castradina. Outside and to the back of the church is a carnival-like atmosphere, with frittelle (fritters), palloncini (balloons on strings), clowns, and votive candles.

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Published 06/20/2007

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