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Today, November 21th, I m in Venezia to celebrate the feast of the Madonna della Salute our Lady of the Health.

This year is more important tribute to ask the stop of Covid pandemia.

In Venice on 21st November is celebrating the liberation of the city from the terrible plague that plagued the whole of Northern Europe between 1629 and 1633. Italy also paid a very high death toll for this terrifying epidemic. That of 1630, the same one that Alessandro Manzoni recounts in 'The Betrothed', was particularly virulent and in the city of Venice alone caused, in just 17 months, 12,000 deaths in a population of 150,000 people. In this desperate situation, the Doge promised to build a church "magnificent and with pomp" to the Madonna so that she would free the city from the disease, right in the area from which the infection started. The houses of the Seminary near the Punta della Dogana were therefore demolished to carry out the project by the architect Baldassarre Longhena. The Basilica was built on an octagonal plan with elegant Baroque forms. Dome and tympanums of the facades interacted with the Palladian churches overlooking the San Marco Basin.

A splendid Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mesopanditissa (mediator of peace) was placed on the main altar, which Francesco Morosini brought to the city from Crete in 1670 when the Venetians had to surrender the island to the Turks.

In the days preceding the anniversary, much loved by the population, a bridge of boats is set up to join the two banks of the Grand Canal and allow an easier flow for all pilgrims, who bring a candle to the altar of the Madonna to thank her and invoke her benevolence with this propitiatory gesture. The stalls set up for the occasion in the nearby Rio Terà dei Catecumeni offer children traditional sweets and colorful balloons.

The typical dish of this festival is castradina, a salted and smoked mutton soup, imported at the time from the nearby 'Sclavonia' the coastal strip that includes Dalmatia, Albania and Bosnia (called for this 'castradina sciavona') which is prepared with cabbage, onions and wine.

Today, with 2 euro, from Rio San’Aponal, over San Marco, is it possible to cross Canal Grande by gondola to arrive to the Salute Church.

The atmosfere remember a romantic Italian movie titled “Anonimo Veneziano”, 1970, directed by Enrico Maria Salerno. The music of the movie are in the history of the cinema.

I light a candle to our Lady of the Helth to ask the end of this sad sad Covid. All of us in all the world lost someone.

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