The “Health” rite and the MoSE, the city’s defence
Taking a leap through time…
It has always been mankind’s dream.
But though not actually possible yet, there are ways and places which may help to do so.
Certainly… it takes a bit of imagination, the right moment, and maybe closing your eyes, just for an instant.
So, aided by a gondola’s slow-flowing image on water, by reflections of a faint light on an ancient façade, or by the sound of footsteps ringing out among the alleyways, or even further, by observing an artwork in a museum, a creation by an imaginative vision: to live in another age for a moment.
This is indeed one of the reasons why Venice remains in one’s heart… its capacity for making one dream. And today, in such a difficult moment, in a context which has tested everyone so hard, such a value becomes even more important.
There is also its symbolism… what Venice has always represented: a city open to the world, a city which has been able to fight and overcome difficult moments, without ever losing its dignity and its fame as an enlightened city.
Therefore, we wanted an image on the cover of this issue, to sum it all up, the history, the dream, the symbolism.
It is the eighteenth-century view of one of the most famous Venetian basilicas, Santa Maria della Salute, known in town as the church of the Madonna of Health.
What has been known for centuries as the Salute or Health Fête is celebrated this month on 21 November, to be precise; an ancient rite, ever-respected and honoured by the Venetians, who thank the Madonna for having caused the terrible plague in 1630 to end, with their vows and a pilgrimage, and who still beg protection today for their loved ones.
Due to inevitable rulings by the government and the consequent restrictions being enacted, we do not know yet how this anniversary will take place this year, but one thing is certain, that in modern times at least, never has the significance of this rite represented the reasons that originally caused its thanksgiving format to be born, as it does in our current times.
From a leap into the past, to modern technologies, and a possible future for the city.
Before leaving the reader as usual to consult the following pages and thus to everything that Venice is offering during this period- albeit in a reduced form – we wish to mention another aspect of value for this month.
Exactly one year ago, it was 12 November, an appalling tide driven by mighty winds submerged almost the whole of public land in town.
That day reached the maximum tide level ever to be registered in the city, just slightly below the one-metre-ninety-three centimetres (1.93 metres) tide recorded during the devastating 1966 flood.
Now, after many years, many battles and many controversies, a target has been reached, which Venice and the world were anxiously looking forward to. The MoSE project (the acronym for Electromechanical Experimental Module), one of the greatest hydraulic works ever built, is now almost ready. It went into action twice last October, halting a wave-thrust over one metre-and-a-half (1.5 metre) with its impressive hydraulic barriers, deployed along all three of the sea-lagoon canals.
It will still be necessary to wait for one year however, for its definitive delivery, but at least, over forty years after that awful episode, the city may draw a deep sigh of relief starting from today.
A sigh we wish to share with all the Guests and lovers of our city, along with these lines we are quoting with great pleasure and a certain emotion, drawn from a statement by Gabriella Belli, the director of the Venice City Museums Foundation.
«For the first time in the history of Venice, its most precious monuments are safe and it is a grand emotion for us, after having pined and suffered every year on watching our fragile heritage being scarred by the tides.
A moving, wonderful event, a great piece of news for the world of art and culture and for this city, which holds a heritage that is unique worldwide, which we have the duty to preserve, even more, though it is concentrated within such a delicate location. Great news for Venice and for everybody».