Rowing Mary home


Once again, May has come to an end (you needed me to tell you that) and we closed the 31st in the usual way, by joining the annual procession which accompanies the statue of the Madonna and Jesus from the church of San Pietro di Castello to her home base in the church of San Francesco di Paola. Even though, technically speaking, the feast of Maria Ausiliatrice is May 24, here it’s on May 31.

One small improvement in the modest lineup of boats that usually forms her escort was that Lino suggested we row a caorlina, which is noticeably bigger than the modest little mascareta we usually use.  In this way, we could set up folding chairs in the boat and carry people who might have wanted to participate by floating rather than by walking.

Weather good.  Crowd large and earnest.  Not as many people watching from the windows as there have been in some years, but perhaps there were more on the ground.

The loudspeaker wasn’t too capricious (a plus), but for some reason the priest chose a couple of everyday hymns as part of the event, completely ignoring the hymn associated specifically with this festival (a very large minus).  This is one tradition which has absolutely no need of being re-fangled.

I’m going to have to complain to the management.  Just as soon as she’s back on her pedestal.

On the evening of May 24, the statue was borne from the church of San Francesco di Paola to the church of San Pietro di Castello. The entire parish followed along, everyone reciting the prayers. A stroll after dinner is always a good thing, especially one like this.

Around 9:00 PM on May 31, the statue was brought out of the church, followed by her retinue of assorted parishioners and acolytes.

The corteo begins, backed by a stretch of Arsenal wall.

One of the few boats forming the procession carried several generations of the family. Always good to have a youngster at the bow, on the lookout for -- I don't know -- police boats. Seppie. Anything.

They look more pensive than absolutely necessary. I wonder if they were sorry they came aboard.

The cortege makes its first turn.

Moving the Madonna under the bridges was slightly challenging.

Turning past the Arsenal.


By the time we reach the end, it's almost night. This is just one of the evening's many beautiful elements.


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Categories : Boatworld, Events


  1. Jo says:

    Bravo Erla! Once again a beautiful post that shows the every day, human side of Venice – I must note this one in my diary if I get the opportunity to be there next May! Many thanks, Jo

  2. Rob C says:

    Today in the Quuen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant there were two Venetian boats proudly flying the Venetian Flag.

    Do you know anything about this?

    They looked fantastic, but I think they would have been a bit cold and wet by the end as it poured down!


    • Erla Zwingle says:

      As far as I know, the “disdotona” (18-oar gondola) from the Querini rowing club, and the “diesona,” or 10-oar gondola, from the Settemari rowing club, were both there.

  3. Rob C says:


    They were fantastic Ambassadors for both Venice and their rowing clubs.

    It’s such a pity that the weather was decidedly ‘republican’.


  4. […] evening, the annual corteo to transport the statue of Our Lady of Succor (“Maria Ausiliatrice”) from the church of San Pietro di Castello to the church of San […]