Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fireworks in Venice - Redentore 2013

Redentore - Photo - Il Gazzettino
(Venice, Italy) Today is the third Sunday in July, which can only mean one thing: the Festa del Redentore, or the Feast of the Redeemer, when Venice celebrates its redemption from the plague. The celebration has been going on for 436 years, starting back in 1577.

In terms of history, Venice was going through some intense times. In August 1571, they lost their wealthy colony, Famagusta, on Cyprus to the Ottoman Turks, who brutally tortured and flayed alive Marcantonio Bragadin, the Venetian Captain of the Kingdom of Cyprus -- today his skin is here in Venice in the Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. This sparked the famous Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571 when Pope Pius V sent the Holy League to rescue the Venetian colony from the Turks. The Christians won, preventing the Ottoman Empire from expanding further along the European side of the Mediterranean, but Venice did lose Cyprus. 

Church of the Redentore
Then between 1575 and 1577, Venice was ravaged by the plague, which wiped out nearly 50,000 people, almost a third of the population. The Venetians became convinced it was divine punishment for their sins. Desperate, powerless to stop it, in the midst of the desolation, on September 4, 1576, the Venetian Senate voted to ask the Redeemer, or the Redentore, for help, vowing to build a magnificent temple in thanksgiving. They commissioned the great architect, Andrea Palladio, to design the church, and on May 3, 1577 the Patriarch of Venice laid the cornerstone. And it worked! Just two months later, on July 13, 1577, the plague was declared officially over. After it was consecrated in 1592, the Church of Redentore was placed in the charge of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. Every year the Doge, the Patriarch and the Senate walked across a pontoon bridge to attend Mass on the third Sunday in July, grateful for all the good they had received.

Hello Venezia
Now, 436 years later, the same celebration continues. Venice continues to sin, and needs yearly redemption as much as ever. Venice no longer has a Doge and a Senate, but we have a mayor, and the Patriarch and the Capuchins are still around. The evening before the third Sunday in July, the Venetians throw an enormous party, with people from all over the Veneto arriving in their boats to watch a stupendous fireworks display. The fondamenta on the Giudecca is lined with tables heaped with traditional food. Terraces and balconies are filled with revelers; Piazzo San Marco is jammed with tourists to watch the show.

This year, according to Il Gazzettino, the local paper, more than 120,000 people viewed the fireworks in more than 2,000 boats, which, in addition to the typical Venetian boats, included "speed boats, yachts and super-yachts" prompting Mayor Giorgio Orsoni to declare that "false friends" of Venice would have the world believe that Venice was dying, when, in fact, the city was alive and enthusiastic.

Hello Venezia
Venice has been through many tough times throughout history, but somehow manages to keep on keeping on. Just that Venice exists is impossible, a city with streets of water, a labyrinth to be navigated, filled with heavenly architecture and precious art. More than four centuries ago, when human beings were powerless to stop it, the Redeemer saved the population from the deadly plague. In remembrance, the Festa del Redentore celebrates the ongoing life of Venice, and the Church of Redentore stands as an awesome monument of thanksgiving.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. More than four centuries ago, when human beings were powerless to stop it, the Redeemer saved the population from the deadly plague. In remembrance, the Festa del Redentore celebrates the ongoing life of Venice, and the Church of Redentore stands as an awesome monument of thanksgiving.

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