Antonio Diziani [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AAntonio_Diziani_-_Feast_of_Corpus_Christi_Procession%2C_Piazza_di_San_Marco_-_WGA06353.jpg
Another week, another festival in Venice! This time it was the annual celebration of the body and blood of Christ, and Christ’s presence in Holy Communion. It drew the biggest audience I’ve seen yet; there must have been thousands of people in Piazza San Marco.
The doge, in his crimson robe, was lucky he had a great seat inside the cathedral to watch the procession for five hours, but ordinary people had to stand outside. My legs have never felt so tired as that night, but my reward was the amazing sight of one guild following another, then clergy of all types, and finally the doge’s own procession, which included the Patriarch and Senators and who knows who else. Each group had something that caught my eye–festive costumes and banners, floats with actors re-enacting famous events, mostly taken from the Bible.
PS: Venetians aren’t the only ones who enjoy our festivities—among other foreigners, I saw three Turks at the procession.
Albrecht Dürer [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADurer-3-turcs.jpg
Another festive week has passed in Venice–we’re in the middle of a two-week long festival that began after Mass at San Marco church last Sunday (Festa/Ascension Day), when the doge boarded his grand ship (the Bucentaur), which was decorated with banners and joined a procession of boats heading out of the Lagoon to the Adriatic Sea. The church’s choir sang as they joined the boat procession. Then the patriarch (also in a ship) called out three times, “We worthily entreat Thee to grant that this sea be tranquil and quiet for our men and all others who sail upon it, O hear us.” He blessed the waters and sprinkled the doge with holy water.
From Piazza San Marco where I stood, I couldn’t see the final stage of this ceremony, but Papa tells me it’s the same every year. When they reached the channel between the lagoon and the sea, the patriarch poured holy water into the sea, while the doge threw a gold ring into the water and said, “We espouse thee, O sea, as a sign of true and perpetual dominion”—so Venice renewed its marriage to the sea.
The doge and his party stopped at the Lido for a banquet, but everyone else (including Papa and me) went home to feast.
Even the splendid fair that’s gone on all week couldn’t surpass this momentous day!
The first time I saw her, I was so relieved that the Dogaressa (the Doge’s wife) doesn’t look as strange as her husband! The doge is the living symbol of our city, while his dignified wife (who looks like a queen) takes the role of patroness of the convents, orphanages, and guilds. My friends tell me she had a grand coronation ceremony–I wish I could have been here to see it!