My parents used to tell me that true beauty comes from within, so I should never judge people by how they look on the outside. Suddenly these words came back to me when my father showed me more of Venice’s treasured art—this time, in churches.
If I had stayed outside, I wouldn’t have seen how Venice’s artists are using oil paints, light, and color to bring their paintings to life—truly a Renaissance in art! Now I understand why my father keeps talking about these men, some still living—Jacopo Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese, Lorenzo Lotto, Titian, Giorgione, and Giovanni Bellini.
Inside San Rocco church, Tintoretto used light and shadows in his dramatic paintings, San Rocco Healing Plague Victims and San Rocco in Prison Visited by an Angel.
The church of Saints Giovanni and Paolo displays several of Veronese’s paintings, including his Adoration of the Magi, as well as Lotto’s Alms of St. Anthony, Tintoretto’s dramatic Crucifixion, and paintings by Bellini and Titian. These are just a few of the magical recent paintings housed in this city’s churches.
Venice’s Renaissance is very much alive to everyone who knows where to look and has the chance to visit. I’m so glad I’m one of those fortunate people!
On December 8th of every year I lived in Verona, I went to Mass and ate a special dinner to celebrate the conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
But here in Venice, devotion to Jesus’ mother lasts all year long! When I go outside, I see shrines to Mary in the corners of walkways, with votive lamps the neighbors keep burning in her honor. In every house, I see her picture. Venice’s top artists, Titian and Tintoretto, both painted portraits of the angel announcing to Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus. (For some strange reason, the scenery in those paintings looks just like Venice!) And in “Mary’s church,” Santa Maria Gloriosa, eight altars are dedicated to her.
So I wasn’t surprised today was a grand holiday in Venice, with feasts, concerts, and extra masses. But when church bells rang for the prayer, “Hail Mary,” I was shocked to watch sophisticated Venetians in elegant dress fall to their knees to honor Jesus’ mother, wherever they happened to be. How Venice Loves Mary!
Yesterday my father took me to a new church, Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, in Venice’s San Polo neighborhood not far from our palazzo. I hope it won’t be my last visit!
As soon as we entered the sanctuary, I couldn’t help but notice the huge painting above the altar—as tall as four men! Its bright reds and golds caught my eye, and I found myself walking up the aisle all the way to the front. On the vast canvas, the Virgin Mary was rising from clouds held by cherubs to meet Jesus in heaven. The disciples stood below, watching, craning their necks and raising their arms.
This painting—so active and dramatic, the people so realistic I could read their emotions and almost watch them breathe—was different from anything I’d seen before. Papa told me it was painted by Titian, Venice’s master artist who died in the recent Plague epidemic. Thank God he lived long enough to finish this amazing painting and many others that I hope to see soon!