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Who is Venice’s beloved Our Lady of Health?

Santa Maria Della Salute Venice Pope Francis


Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 04/28/24

The majestic church in her honor was built to thank God for the end of the plague in the 1600s.

The feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple commemorates the day on which (according to an extra-biblical tradition) Mary’s parents, Anne and Joachim, entrusted her to the priests and Levites in the Temple to be raised in the Lord’s service.

On this date, Venice commemorates an episode of the plague, which occurred in 1630 and claimed 12,000 victims in the month of November alone.


Faced with the brutality of the pandemic, Patriarch Giovanni Tiepolo ordered public prayers for a week, then a procession for 15 Saturdays led by a precious icon of Our Lady, known as “Maria Nicopeia,” said to have been painted by St. Luke himself.

Venice lost 700,000 inhabitants in two years, but the plague came to an end.

Thanking Mary

To thank the Virgin Mary, a church was built at the end of the Grand Canal, called “Santa Maria della Salute” (Our Lady of Health).

Pope Francis delivers a speech at Santa Maria della Salute basilica during a meeting with young people on April 28, 2024 in Venice

Every November 21, a floating bridge is built over the Grand Canal to make it easier to reach this edifice, where Masses and rosaries are celebrated throughout the day. This is a public holiday in Venice. 

Below, the pontoon bridge built for Pope Francis to cross during his April 28, 2024, visit.


The city has a procession with public officials, a tradition which dates back to the 1600s.

ItalyVirgin Mary
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