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. Martial are obscure, the abbey of Limoges which bore his name and housed his remains was one of the splendours of the early Middle Ages, its library second only to that of Cluny.

This was utterly destroyed during the rabid (if thoroughly earned) anticlericalism following on the French Revolution, and modern Limoges’s Place de la Republique built over it, to emphasise the point. Venice’s San Marziale is rather less splendid; the present late 17th century structure, considerably restored in 1958 (replacing an earlier church dating back to the 13th c.), is unremarkable, to say the least, though the iron gratings over the windows onto the Misericordia canal are elegant. The adjacent Ponte S.Marziale was one of the many battlegrounds for the semi-formalised stave (bastoni), later fist (pugni) fights between the Castellani and Nicolotti factions.