We attended Mass at San Marco, the most famous church in Venice, a marvelous experience.
The golden background of the paintings on the walls behind the chapel contrasted nicely with the Renaissance art we’ve seen in Rome, providing a teachable moment that I enjoyed. I’m not so sure about everyone else, of course.
Speaking of teachable moments, I’m curious about the heavier representation of papal figures in church art here. I’ve now seen more modern art in the last two days in Venice (none of which was in a museum) than I have in my first two weeks in Roma (my fault, of course), so there is a thriving, functioning modern art market here (yesterday I witnessed a series of pieces dedicated by an artist from Turin to the publicos (?), covered structures designed to provide shortcuts through private property for those on foot). Because of the heavy emphasis on republican government, papal authority has been more in question here, and the churches have been places to help reinforce that papal power. In a book on Venice I read that Venezians have traditionally placed their faith in Venice at all times, the Church some, and the Pope not at all, and I think it’s useful for us to step outside of the spiritual realm we usually associate with organized religion and look at the ways that power – political, military, and economic – figure into the equation of the formation of large institutions.