Monthly Archives: September 2014

Girls and Women in Venice

Miracle of the Relic of the holy Cross by Giovanni Mansueti

Miracle of the Relic of the Holy Cross in Camp San Leo, by Giovanni Mansueti, ca. 1494. (Galleria dell’Accademia, Venice), Public Domain

When I arrived in Venice,  I couldn’t help but notice its many canals, bridges, cathedrals, and palaces. The next thing that struck me was what I didn’t see—as I traveled through the city with my father, the only women and girls out by themselves were servant girls and brightly-dressed courtesans.  Occasionally, mothers and daughters strolled about, but always in the company of their husbands and brothers. What a contrast from my hometown, Verona!

Papa told me that in this city built on islands, people live so close to each other that they notice any breach of propriety, and all of Venice hears about it.  So to protect their daughters’ reputations so they’ll be able to marry well, families don’t allow their girls to go out without escorts.  My father concluded, “Now that we’re in Venice, you’ll need to follow this custom. Don’t worry, I’ll show you around.”

Now I understand why so many girls and women stand out on their balconies watching whatever goes on below–and this city is beginning to seem more like a prison than a new adventure.  I hope Papa makes good on his promise soon!



Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin/ Mary’s birthday

Jean Bourdichon, ca. 1500, Public Domain
The Virgin Mary by Jean Bourdichon, ca. 1500, Public Domain

Yesterday was a great day!  We always feast on September 8th to celebrate the birthday of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  The priest always recites Mary’s song: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; because He who is mighty has done great things for me.”

Then we eat meat and fruit-sweetened cakes—it’s an occasion I don’t forget!

As much as I enjoyed the festivities yesterday,  I always look forward to starting school the next day (and now a new school year has begun again).  Paintings of Jesus’ mother reading inspire me—and I hope my teacher brings a book I haven’t read!