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April 4, 2012

St. Mark's in Venice

As a continuation of my "online" Visita Iglesia, I am highlighting the various churches that I have visited in the Philippines and around the world. For this Holy Wednesday, I am featuring the Church of St. Mark's in Venice. While I was in Venice, I really had to make sure that I would visit St. Mark's Square and the historic Church. There are two ways you can reach St. Mark's Square and the Basilica: you can walk or you can ride the water taxi. The latter is faster. The former is cheaper. If you don't have enough time but have enough money, then take the water taxi. If you have plenty of time to waste, then walking to St. Mark's would also be an exhilarating experience.

St. Mark's Basilica is a good example of Byzantine architecture. Adjacent to the church is the Doge's Palace. According to text books, it is also called the Church of Gold.

From their official website, the church is described in detail:

St. Mark's plan is Greek cross. Both arms of the cross are subdivided into nave and two aisles.
Beyond the transept, delimited by the iconostasis, the area of the eastern arm is occupied by the presbytery in the centre and, at the sides, by the chapels of St. Peter to the north and St. Clement to the south.

At the bottom of the presbytery, abutting the apse, there is an altar on a platform once raised by five steps, for deposition of the Most Holy. The transept extremities close with a rectilinear wall. To the north they take in the walls of the St. Isadore and Mascoli chapels, and to the south those of access to the Ducal Palace. On the west and north sides the church is surrounded by a narthex in which, at the southern end, there was the "sea gate", now occupied by the chapel of cardinal Giovambattista Zen.

The main entrance is from the West facade. To right and left are the St. Clement and St. Peter entrances. At the northern end of the fa├žade, the St. Alipius entrance. In the northern arm the Door of Flowers is also closed with a bronze gate.
The church is accessed from the narthex by means of four doors: the central one, the St. Clement and the St. Peter, in correspondence to the chapels of the same name and, to the north the Door of the Virgin or of St. John.
The baptistery, built on the southern frontage at the limit of the sea gate, between the gate and an ancient corner-tower, features two cupolas and a vault connecting it to the structures of the Zen chapel. The tower, of uncertain function and transformed with the creation of the third St. Mark's, is connected internally to the church and to the walls of the building incorporated into the head of the south transept. Today it houses the Treasure and the Sanctuary with the relics.
Access to the sacristy, enlarged at the end of the 15th century, is from the presbytery and St. Peter's chapel. Adjacent to the sacristy there is the 15th century church of St. Theodore.

The nave and two aisle crypt with apse is beneath the presbytery and the side chapels. In the nave, beneath the high altar, there is the ancient chapel where the evangelist's remains were kept. The crypt has an intersecting barrel-vault ceiling supported by small columns. To the west of the crypt, an area known as the "retro-crypt " contains the tombs of all the patriarchs of Venice since 1807.

When I visited the church, there was a long line of tourists and pilgrims that I decided to settle myself outside to view the wonderful mosaic which depicted the story of how St. Mark's body was transferred to the Church.

I then focused my attention on the square where a lot of tourists and pigeons where conglomerating.

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Joy Felizardo said...

 Time and again, this brings back the feeling that I've always had when we were at Milan, some 7 years ago, when I longed to stay longer and visit Venezia and Roma.

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