November 2nd 2018 – All Souls Day – Venice.
By now it is only drizzling. I follow Alicia through the maze. Relieved to have a daughter who understands Google Maps I become childlike – abdicating all responsibility. We walk and exclaim at the architectural wonders to behold. My eyes are saucers…
After a labyrinth of lanes filled with bright boutiques we emerge at a waterfront. “What is that flood-lit church in the distance?” Alicia doesn’t know either. (It is our first evening here – we don’t know anything yet.) I take fast photos as I keep moving – I don’t want to lose sight of Alicia. I cannot name the church. It is simply A Vision – a splendid mirage floating above milling figures.
A couple of days later I spend an hour deep in thought within a chapel of the domed church. Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and I are no longer strangers.
She was built to entreat the Virgin Mary to intercede on the City’s behalf to end the plague. This particular epidemic was between 1630 and 1631, killing around 80, 000 people in the immediate region. Baroque-styled La Salute was completed in 1681 and every year since the 17th century, on 21 November, city officials parade from San Marco to La Salute on the Feast of Presentation to the Virgin for a service of gratitude.
A serene and magnificent structure was created as a result of tragedy.