The feast of the “Madonna della Salute”

The feast days of San Martino and the Madonna della Salute are celebrated not only in church but also with traditional recipes.

November is the month when winter really starts to bite. Sometimes, rain produces the “acqua alta” phenomenon that submerges parts of the city and forces residents to dig out their wellies, which absolutely everyone keeps handy just in case.

November is also the month of some of the city’s typical feasts. The grey skies contrast with the resplendent colours of bakery windows twinkling with the season’s typical multicoloured treats: “fave,” which are little almond paste sweets made for All Souls’ Day, and “San Martin,” traditional biscuits in the shape of a horse and rider, decorated with colourful treats, and recalling the saint’s story.

But the religious feast that still remains a major event even today is the feast of the Madonna della Salute. It sees Venetians parade across a temporary bridge over the Canal Grande from Santa Maria del Giglio to the church of San Vito, where they seek the intercession of the Virgin Mary to protect their health and the health of their families.

The feast traces its roots back to the plague of 1630, which decimated the population of Venice. When it ended, the Senato della Serenissima decreed that the church be built in thanks for the grace received.

At one time, although less so now, the church’s parvise would be covered with stalls selling not only votive candles for the Virgin Mary, but also hot food and sweets as a reward for the children.

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