Saint Roch Day

Tomorrow is the day of the Feast of Saint Roch and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco will open at 2 pm and close at 9 pm. Venetian citizens and visitors will be admitted in the Scuola by paying only 1 euro. Saint Roch is the co-patron of Venice toghether with St. Mark, the main patron saint of Venice. St. Roch is solemnly celebrated in history on August 16th

His remains are found in the homonymous church, since 1490. The Venetians have turned to him over the centuries especially to ask for help against the plague epidemics from which they felt particularly threat since Venice was an international maritime center, subject to epidemics. After the plague of 1576, the feast of the co-patron of Venice became one of the most important events in the city. The Doge arrived at the Church of San Rocco, with a sumptuous water procession,  and after the solemn mass, he was visiting the treasures of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco originated in 1478 by a Fraternity of lay people.  Tintoretto was later hired to paint an impressively huge cycle of the Old and New Testament stories. Amazingly the Feast of San Rocco is still celebrated in Venice, which does not fail to commemorate the patron saint every year on August 16th. On this day the Scuola makes special arrangements outside and inside its buildings like in the past centuries: the tendon del Dose, a red baldacchino, is linking the old fraternity building to the new one and the church of St.Roch in between the two. It was crafted to create some shade in such a sunny and hot day. You can appreciate the joyful atmosphere of the Doge’s and the Signoria visit in the famous Canaletto painting (today at the National Gallery of London). The interior is decorated with eighteenth-century apparatuses, one can breath a different atmosphere and a more intense activity than usual, which culminates with the Pontifical Mass in honor of San Rocco.  This year, exceptionally, the celebration, presided by His Excellency Francesco Moraglia, Patriarch of Venice, will be held at 11.00 in the Chapter House of the School (with limited admissions for up to 150 people), since the church is closed to the public  (due to the restoration of the paintings of the presbytery dome).

Since the sixteenth century, the Fraternity (or Scuola) has paid particular attention to the celebration of the patronal feast, the day on which, at the time of the Republic, the outward journey, that is the visit, of the Doge to the church and to the School, a visit of which we have known since from 1523.
The occasional journey apparently became a fixed recurrence after the plague of 1576, when San Rocco was declared co-patron of Venice, and in 1577 the doge Sebastiano Venier, after visiting the Redentore church to dissolve the vote for the liberation from the disease, he also went to the church dedicated to the saint. I highly recommend to visit this magnificent and unique place tomorrow or the next time you come to Venice !

The baldacchino on the day of Saint Roch

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