Monday, May 29, 2017

The Peace of Venice? Some Surprises on Festa della Sensa 2017

Festa della Sensa
(Venice, Italy) Christians believe that about two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ physically ascended into Heaven. The Feast of the Ascension is celebrated on the fortieth day of Easter, or Holy Thursday. Some venues celebrate the holiday the Sunday after Holy Thursday, which is what Venice does, and calls it "Festa della Sensa."

The ancient Venetians worked the special celestial energy released around Christian holy days into their calendar, using divine power to accomplish great missions. In addition to Jesus rising to Heaven, Venice commemorates two historic events that happened 177 years apart:

1. On May 9, 1000, Doge Pietro Orseolo II rescued the Dalmatians from the Slavs. This was such a great victory that it was decreed that every succeeding Ascension Day -- the anniversary of the departure of Doge Orseolo and his fleet -- Venice would sail again out to the Lido to give thanks.

This was the prayer they said:

'Grant, O Lord, that for us and for all who sail thereon, the sea may ever be calm and quiet.'

This prayer actually seems to work because, if I remember correctly, it has been a beautiful, calm, sunny day every Festa della Sensa for the nineteen years I've lived here, and yesterday was no exception.

2. In 1177, Venice accomplished a great feat: getting Emperor Frederick Barbarossa to prostrate himself in front of Pope Alexander III in Piazza San Marco and accept him as pope, a treaty which was called the "Peace of Venice." Since Pope Alexander was in town, he attended the famous Festa della Sensa ceremony which, by that time, Venetians had been celebrating for nearly two centuries. The newly-recognized pope handed Doge Sebastiano Ziani a consecrated ring, saying:


"Receive this as a pledge of the sovereignty which you and your successors shall have in perpetuity over the sea."

I have written about the Festa della Sensa many, many times before. Here's a post from 2015 with links to several previous posts:

Longest Marriage in History: Venice and the Sea - Festa della Sensa 2015



We can only imagine US President Donald Trump, the closest thing we have to an emperor these days, prostrating himself in front of the current Pope Francis. However, President Trump and Pope Francis actually did meet for the very first time on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 the day before Ascension Day.
 
Festa della Sensa

Which brings us to Festa della Sensa celebrated on May 27 and 28, 2017. These days Venice has added more spice to the mix. It gives a ceremonial ring to a "twin" community; last year it was Florence, which has now given back the ring. This year it is the Dolomites and the Agordina Community, connecting the lagoon to the mountains, looking 20 years to the future, imagining a different way to move and use energy.

Like the US, Venice has a billionaire running the show, Mayor Luigi Brugnaro, elected in 2015, who used Twitter and behaved erratically long before Trump became President of the United States. I know how weird it can get because he attacked me personally on Twitter after I, and several others, were interviewed about rampant tourism by the International Business Times.

Brugnaro has since flipped on whom and what he supports; I made peace with him during the Schiavone exhibition in December, 2015. He seems to have a sense of humor. I think he has switched tactics and is now using a spoonful of sugar, which, as Mary Poppins says, helps the medicine go down. Maybe I am wrong, but I think that after he got a feeling for the job, he is now trying to protect Venice's interests against many powerful forces in his own billionaire way.

One of the most surprising things Brugnaro has done was to award Jane Da Mosto, Saverio Pastor and Michele Bugliesi the Osella d’Oro prize on Saturday, an award named after the gold coin that Venetian doges once gave to senators. Saverio Pastor makes traditional oars and forcole, or oar locks; Michele Bugliesi is the rector of Ca' Foscari, the University of Venice, and a Computer Science professor. And Jane Da Mosto is, according to Anna Somers Cocks of The Art Newspaper, "a leader of the activist generation of Venetians who have refused to stand by and let their city die", which you can read here:

At last: the mayor of Venice recognises the role of the private citizen in defending Venice




Associazione Masegni & Nizioleti -  Photo: Alberto Alberti
Yesterday was also Cleaning Day, when a group of concerned folks gets together to clean up the graffiti and other forms of destruction in Venice. Here's a post from back in 2012 that explains more about Cleaning Day and the organizations involved:

Cleaning Day in Venice


Here's hoping that Venice truly becomes a leader when it comes to manageable tourism, climate change and renewable energy.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. The ancient Venetians worked the special celestial energy released around Christian holy days into their calendar, using divine power to accomplish great missions. In addition to Jesus rising to Heaven, Venice commemorates two historic events that happened 177 years apart:

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