A Venetian Almanac

December 6th—The Feast of San Nicolò.

December 6th—The Feast of San Nicolò.

It sometimes seems that saints are revered in inverse proportion to their deeds. It is not clear that Saint Nicholas ever did much of note, other than slip coins into people's shoes – and who hasn't done that? Nonetheless he's the patron Saint of Aberdeen, Russia,...

September 30th—St Jerome’s Day

(June 15th in the Eastern Church, but on this occasion Venice went with the West). In the days of the Republic, one of the five dates on which a state banquet was held, “when the newly-elected members of the Council of Ten took their seats, the Doge entertained them...

Third weekend of July—Festa del Redentore

In 1576, with Venice in the grip of one of the worst plagues in its history, the authorities attempted to bribe God to relent, promising as a quid pro quo for deliverence the construction of a magnificent temple to Christ the Redeemer. A site on the Giudecca was...

July 17th—Saint Marina’s day.

Not, I think, Saint Marina of Aguas Santas (Marina of Orense), but Margaret of Antioch, whose feast day falls in fact on July 20th in the Roman calendar. She is honoured instead by the Eastern Church, where she is known as Santa Marina, on July 17th, the Venetians, as...

June 30th—Festa di San Marziale (vulg. S.Marcilian)

Martial was one of the seven bishops sent out by the third century Pope Fabian to preach the Gospel to the Gauls, who were sufficiently unappreciative to martyr most of them. The best known of the bunch was Saint Denis (Paris), but although the life and deeds of St....

June 15th—Festa di San Vio (St Vitus, as in Dance).

On this day, or rather night, 700 years ago in dim and distant 1310, an attempted coup against the Republic was foiled by a combination of treachery, lack of mobile phones, bad weather and a well-aimed mortar (with which an ancient markswoman, Giustina Rossi, felled...

June 11th — Feast of San Barnaba

In the later days of the Republic, impoverished nobles were (modestly) lodged at the public expense in this parish, and were known consequently as 'barnabotti'. "Too proud to work - and lose their patent of nobility - too stupid to play any part in the Government,...

March 25th—Feast of the Annunciation

Lady Day, but, more importantly, the traditional day on which Venice was founded, in 421, at midday, supposedly a Friday, as this year. Here is Horatio Brown apropos: 'The Venetian official account always assigned the 25th March 421 as the day on which Venice was...

February 2nd—Candlemas / Festa della Purificazione.

In Roman Catholic churches all the candles which will be needed during the coming year are consecrated. In 492 St. Gelasius changed the Roman Pagan festival the Lupercalia to The Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. The Festa delle Marie. At Candlemas...

July 31, 1945—Ven. Lonsdale Ragg died in Bath aged 78.

He had been British chaplain in Venice 1905-1909 and wrote, with his wife Laura, two worthwhile publications on the city, the Venice volume of the attractive A & C Black Colour Book series, (with the wishy-washy watercolour illustrations that embellish those...