The beautiful church of Santa Maria della Salute owes its origin to a dreadful event: the plague of Venice in 1630-31. To stop the scourge the Venetians invoked divine intervention, vowing to build a church to honor the Virgin Mary in exchange for an end to their troubles. It worked, and the promised church, designed by the young architect Baldassare Longhena, was completed in 1682.
It is one of the town’s most heartfelt celebrations, and thousands of people make pilgrimages across a specially (and temporarily) set up pontoon bridge, buying candles at booths placed in the square outside the church.
The high point of the festivities is the arrival of the Patriarch (bishop) of Venice leading a colorful procession of priests, cardinals and carabinieri to the church, where he will give a special thanksgiving homily.