The Feast of Redentore, one of the most ancient popular Venetian feasts, is celebrated every year in Venice on the third Sunday of July: it is the most appreciated and felt by the Venetians who, following a rite which has been repeated for four hundred years, meet on the basin of St. Mark in order to wait for and admire the midnight fireworks.
History tells that, after three years of terrible epidemic, Doge Sebastiano Venier released the vow, made by his predecessor Alvise Mocenigo, of building a thanks church for the Redentore on Giudecca island. This task was entrusted to Palladio who in 1579 placed the first stone: then the church was consecrated in 1592.
On the 21st July 1578, on the place where the church had to be erected, an altar with a tabernacle was built in the open air and in four days over GiudeccaCanal a bridge made of eighty galleys was formed. An immense crowd of the Venetians who had escaped the terrible epidemic, crossed it, being aware that all mourning and misfortunes were ended.
When the church was built, the Doge established that the third Sunday of July should have to be reserved to pilgrimage. Soon people, fearing not to find any more room to watch the ceremony, began to reach Giudecca during the previous evening in order to spend there the whole night and wait the sunrise at Lido.
Though more than four centuries have passed from its consecration, the Feast of Redentore keeps on taking place on the same places and according to the same modalities, still nowadays, in fact, the town is linked to Giudecca by means of a bridge supported by modern floating platforms. The characteristic of popular feast has remained intact: the Venetians are the real protagonists of this feast together with their boats which are exquisitely adorned, the roof-terraces and the squares lit by thousands of lights.
Every year in Venice about one thousand five hundred boats meet on the basin of St. Mark for the Feast of Redentore, while we can estimate that thirty thousand persons, from the sea and the shores, watch this feast that reaches its peak towards midnight with the fireworks placed on some pontoons along a line four hundred metres long between the basin of St. Mark and the Canal of Giudecca.