This year celebrates the 1600th anniversary of the foundation of Venice purported to have taken place on 25th March 421 on the day of the Annunciation and Incarnation of Christ.
Among the most ancient documents that narrate the myth is the Chronicon Altinate, dating back to the C11th-12th. The historian Sanudo in “De origine, situ et magistratibus urbis Venetiae” (1493-1530) writes that the birth of the city, as well as coinciding with the day of the Annunciation, fell on the day of the creation of the World and of Adam as well as of Crucifixion of Christ. Thus March 25th is a date which conjoins the religious with the civic in a narrative which bolstered Venice’s own sense of predestination, pre-eminence and power.
Up high on the Bell Tower in St. Mark’s Square stands a five-meter golden statue – that of Archangel Gabriel – which rotates on its axis when the wind blows announcing the coming of the Messiah and the universality of the Church. On the historic Clock Tower the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ are evoked by the gifts of the Magi: Gold symbolising a King, Incense his Divine Nature, and Myrrh to wrap and preserve his body after death. Centuries ago – where we now have Hours and Minutes next to the Madonna and Child – the wooden statues of the Archangel and the Magi came out every hour to commemorate the Birth, Death and Resurrection of the Saviour. Today you can see those same statues on January 6th and Ascension day.
With us you will walk through the key moments of Venetian history and see how its shifting identity was reflected in its stones and art, we will traverse its memorable events looking at its devotional art and the craftsmen who have handed down professional secrets and ancient traditions through the centuries right up to the Present. Through art and objects we will discover the stories of people, places and facts inextricably linked to the identity of the city.
We recommend a visit to the Basilica of S. Maria della Salute: the first stone of which was laid on March 25th 1631, following the ideas of the architect Baldassare Longhena, and completed in 1681. The Senate ordered its construction as a gesture of salvation for the city from a Plague that killed a one third of Venice’s population. The church has monumental baroque crown motifs offered to the Madonna as a sign of thanks for her intercession on behalf of the population. At the centre of its floor an inscription reminds us that the salvation of soul and body from disease comes from its origin: “unde origo inde salus” – a reminder of the Faith of our ancestors and Venice’s place as the Chosen City