A Quiet Moment in Torcello, Venice
Taking a short boat ride from the Venice I discovered the quiet little island of Torcello.
Torcello was the first island to be settled in the lagoon, long before the present day Venice.
On the Island two churches remain, the beautiful mosaic church the Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, and the very small humble church Santa Fosca.
This 12th century church was built to house the remains of Santa Fosca, the virgin martyr of Ravenna, and those of Santa Maura, her nurse and partner in martyrdom. The remains of both had been brought here in the 10th century.
As I entered this delightfull little church I was surrounded by the sounds of the Gregorian Monks. I soon realized that I was the only one in the church, a rare treat indeed in any church in Italy.
I sat quietly for about 20 minuets soaking up the music and the ambience, feeling very much at peace with the world and myself. To my left was a bronze statue smiling at me in a loving way, leaving me in no doubt that I was having a unique moment. A direct communication with God.
Reluctantly I got up and left the church, and as I did so another women entered. I stood outside for a while taking photos and the same women eventually came out and said to me "Well God was certainly in there, wasn't he". I couldn't have agreed more.
We smiled at each other both knowing we had experienced something special in our own quiet moment in Santa Fosca Church.
History of Torcello
The people that settled on the lagoon (Torcello) were originally from the Roman city of Altino which came under threat in the 5th century from barbarian invasion.
As the Germanic hordes from the north approached Altino many of the residents fled in blind terror, but some remained under the leadership of the Bishop who waited for divine inspiration.
After three days of intense prayer the Bishop of Altino heard a voice like thunder say “Climb ye up to the tower and look at the stars”. The Bishop complied and climbed the tower where he saw the stars in the sky arranged like islands in a lagoon. And so this inhospitable marsh land became their most unlikely destination.
Having established their new island home and naming it Torcello (translated as “Tower and Sky”) there were more miraculous revelations. The priest Mauro received a series of visions including one of Christ. Mother Mary and various saints. Each asking for a church to be built in their name.
And so began the creation of a splendid city, and churches and buildings began to grow from the marshy islands and mudflats, through the ingenious skill and practicality of this remarkable people.
A 6th century writer. Cassiodorous spoke beautifully of this unique colony – “Here lie your houses built like sea-birds nests, half on the sea and half on the land.”
Until the 10th century Torcello was the greatest commercial centre in the lagoon, full of palaces, churches and even a grand canal.
Posted: Tue 25 Sep 2018