Today we’d like to share with you a video taken during the traditional Venetian Festivity “Madonna della Salute” which dates back to the 17th Century.
After the terrible plague that decimated Venice’s population between 1575 and 1577, the city was once again assaulted by the devastating pestilence in 1630. Over the two years that followed, a third of the city inhabitants were killed. With the city’s population again at risk, Doge Nicolò Contarini sought divine intercession by appealing to the Virgin Mary – thought to be the protector of the Serenissima Republic – and publicly pledged that the city would erect and dedicate a church to the Madonna della Salute (Our Lady of Deliverance) if the city was saved. The plague ended some months later. The church was designed by architect Baldassarre Longhena, its Baroque style exalting both the Holy Virgin and the Serenissima Republic at the same time.
Every year, on November 21st, Venetians celebrate the “Festa della Madonna della Salute”. A temporary bridge supported by boats is set up across the Grand Canal, connecting the basilica with Santa Maria del Giglio, right next door to The Gritti Palace. City officials parade from San Marco to the Salute for a service in gratitude of the city’s deliverance from the plague. The festivity is much loved by the city’s inhabitants – thousands of people cross the votive bridge, light candles, and queue to visit the main altar of the imposing Salute Church to give thanks and say a prayer to the Virgin Mary to intercede for their health and that of their loved ones.
Though The Gritti Palace had already closed for restoration at the beginning of November, it was agreed with city officials to delay the installation of the building site which would have occupied a part of Santa Maria del Giglo Square, until after the procession day, thus permitting the pontoon bridge to be set up and the traditional procession to take place without inconveniencing the local inhabitants.
Getting back to our restoration, we have been busy. Below is a gallery showing the continuing excavations, and the stripping of the upper floors. Many of the areas are now difficult to recognise so we’ve added in some images of the areas concerned prior to the restoration.