April 25th: St. Mark’s Day In Venice

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by In Trieste

April 25th is an important date in the Italian history: the Liberation from the Nazi-Fascists in 1945 and it is therefore a national holiday. For Venice there’s an added reason for celebration: April 25th is also St. Mark’s Day, the patron Saint of the city.

Every year at 10.30 in the morning there is the celebration of the Solemn Mass at St Mark’s Basilica which is either preceded or followed by a procession. This year there will be no procession due to the lockdown restrictions and the mass will be held behind closed doors.

St. Mark’s Day

The relics of St. Mark were stolen from Alexandria (Egypt) and transported to Venice in 828 by two Venetian merchants. They hid the relics under a load of pork, which easily passed the customs control. Venice greeted this unusual load with great joy – St. Mark was considered the saint who had evangelized the Venetian territory. 

According to a Venetian legend, an angel in the form of a winged lion appeared in front of St Mark while he was in the Venetian lagoon. The angel told him: “Peace be with you, Mark, my evangelist. Here your body will rest”.

Thus St Mark became the patron saint of the city. And the Republic of Venice assumed the winged lion, called lion of San Marco, as its symbol. It displays a winged lion holding a book with the Latin writing on it: “Pax tibi Marce Evangelista Meus” (Peace be with you, Marco, my evangelist). The lion is still is the symbol of Venice and Veneto region.

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