From May 31 2014 to June 01 2014
The Sensa Feast-day Sunday June 1st 2014
The roots of the Sensa Feast-day lie in the history of Venice, and more specifically in the episode when Doge Ziani acted as mediator between Pope Alexander III and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.
Legend has it that thanks to a meeting between the Pope and the Emperor on Ascension Day in 1177, and to the Serenissima Republic's diplomatic efforts to bring peace, the Pope bestowed many privileges on the city (the use of the sword, the candle, the seal, ensign, curial seat, silver trumpets, and the concession of an indulgence to Saint Mark on Ascension Day).
Marriage to the sea
The Doge of the Serenissima used this rite to demonstrate the Republic's dominion in the gulf.
Aside from legend and tradition, the ceremony probably had Byzantine origins, or could even have been based on ancient pagan propitiators.
The doge and his entourage embarked on the Bucintoro. On reaching the mouth of San Nicolò port, the Doge threw a gold ring into the sea.
A huge and colourful procession of decorated boats with representatives of the guilds and the city's major corporations followed the Bucintoro.
This was the Serenissima's flagship and it embodied the pomp and splendour of the Republic thanks to its ornaments and decoration.
It was used for water processions, for greeting ambassadors and the most important visitors of the time, for festivities and principally on Ascension Day.
After the fall of the Republic, Venice continued its special relationship with the sea: this explains the Festa della Sensa.
The ceremony is obviously not as magnificent as in previous centuries. A touch of historic re-evocation has been introduced, but the symbolism of the mystic marriage to the sea is still evident and is certainly still valid today.
On Ascension Day, the Mayor of Venice, civic dignitaries and religious and military representatives leave Saint Mark's Square and sail to the Port of S. Nicolò where the ritual ring throwing takes place.