|The Pala d'Oro - Basilica di San Marco|
|Photo: Petar Milosevic|
|Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese (1562)|
In 828, relics believed to be the body of St. Mark were stolen from Alexandria by Venetian merchants and taken to Venice. A mosaic in St Mark's Basilica depicts sailors covering the relics with a layer of pork and cabbage leaves. Since Muslims are not permitted to touch pork, this was done to prevent the guards from inspecting the ship's cargo too closely. “History records no more shameless example of body snatching...” as John Julius Norwich put it. The possession of a truly important relic could have serious political consequences. When the body of St Mark came to Venice, the previous patron saint of the city, St Theodore, was demoted. The Doge of the day began to build a splendid church to contain the relics next to his palace, the original San Marco. With an evangelist on its territory, Venice acquired a status almost equal to that of Rome itself.
From the Basilica di San Marco website:
"Venice's greatness has always been reflected in the Basilica's enrichment: during the centuries the Venetians embellished it with precious objects and works of art brought in from the most distant places, thus creating a grand, compact monument. The mellow light falling from above seems to divide the earthly world from the supernatural, which glitters on the vaults in the golden mosaics."
The Pala d'Oro was commissioned a millennium ago, and installed in 1105. I wrote about the Wall of Gold for Gems of Venice:
"The ancient Venetians cherished gems, and created one of the most exquisite altarpieces on earth, the Pala d'Oro, originally commissioned more than 1000 years ago, back about the time when King Mu first traveled on the Silk Road. Venice was inspired by Byzantium and the East, and hired craftsmen from Constantinople to assemble a wall of gold, a "refined expression of Byzantine genius and the cult of light." Embellished with rubies, sapphires, emeralds, garnets, amethysts and 1,927 pearls, the Pala d'Oro attracts the highest energy from the heavens."
"Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."
...I thought, is this same old story really going to just keep cycling on this planet? How many more centuries will we fight over Jerusalem? Are we never going to break the pattern??
If you are a long time Venetian Cat - Venice Blog reader, or if you have read my novel, HARLEY'S NINTH, you will know that my favorite icon is the Madonna Nicopeia, the Madonna of Victory, who marched at the front of the Roman Imperial army when the capital was Byzantium, or Constantinople, now Istanbul. They say she was painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist, and performs miracles. Here she is in person:
|Madonna Nicopeia, St. Mark's Basilica|
The lead up to Christmas day was magical, with lots of mysterious Venetian fog swirling through the calli, and parties in palaces -- I was over at Ca' Sagredo, a magnificent XV century palazzo, twice in two days. The noble Sagredo family bought the palace at the beginning of the 18th century, and it still boasts masterpieces by Venetian artists such as Nicolò Bambini, Giambattista Tiepolo, Sebastiano Ricci and Pietro Longhi.
|Music Hall at Ca' Sagredo|
|Afghanistan guys (Cat Bauer takes blame for blurry photo:)|
|Portego in the day time|
"The mission of the International Columbia Association is to promote the Italian culture, heritage, and language. The Association, through its friends and philanthropists, provides opportunities for the advancement of education and for learning the Italian language. The International Columbia Association also performs humanitarian acts for those in need. The Association will continue to promote and participate in the annual New York City Columbus Day Parade and will also collaborate with other associations who share a common interest in the promotion of the Italian culture."The entertainment was a play by the Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni performed by the Garanghelo Theater Copany in Venetian dialect, and the food included little hot dogs and hamburgers, and chicken wings, in addition to pumpkin risotto and Venetian appetizers. (I still haven't figured out how to take photos without a flash:) It was a joint Venetian - USA party by way of NYC, with an emphasis on good will to men -- refreshing.
Happy Holidays from Venezia!
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog