Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Papal Blessing in Venice: Pentecost 19 May 1782

Francesco Guardi (1712-1793)
Pope Pius VI Blessing the People on Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo
Oil on canvas, 63,5 x 78,5 cm
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

In May 1782, Pope Pius VI visited the city of Venice from 15 till 19 May 1782, returning from an unsuccessful diplomatic mission to the Austrian emperor Joseph II in Vienna

The highpoint of the festivities was the blessing of the people on Pentecost, the day on which the Pope was scheduled to leave.

On the square before SS Giovanni e Paolo, the monastery where the Pope had taken up residence, a wooden platform had been constructed.

Flanked by the ruling Doge, Paolo Renier, and by the Patriarch of Venice, and accompanied by spiritual and secular dignitaries, the pontiff blessed the assembled people

Three sonnets on his stay were published by Pilot in the Nuovo Arch. Veneto, XXVI. (1913), 234 seqq.

The Pope had been expected to stay a little longer in Venice. The ceremony of the Marriage with the Sea which normally took place on Ascension Thursday was delayed so that the Pope could attend.

However for some reason the Pope left Venice early and set off for Bologna.

By an ironic twist, many years later, following the death of Pius VI, at Valence in French custody in August 1799, the conclave to elect his successor met on November 30, 1799 in the Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio, Venice. After several months of stalemate, Chiaramonti was elected as a compromise candidate. He was elected Pope Pius VII at Venice on March 21, 1800