The Festa del Redentore is one of the most important traditional events in Venice. It celebrates the end of the plague of the 16th century and has been a yearly event ever since. It takes place during the weekend of the third Sunday of July, 20-21 July in 2019. The Festa del Redentore combines religious events, a pontoon bridge, parties with families and friends, huge fireworks display in St Mark’s Basin and regattas in the Giudecca Canal.
Between 1575 and 1577, Venice was hit hard by the plague. The disease was probably brought into the city on board of one the commercial vessels. The plague killed 50,000 people, almost one third of the total population. The most famous victim was the painter Titian, although it is not clear whether he died from the plague or from another cause during that period.
In 1576, Doge Alvise Mocenigo begged God to end the plague. He promised Him he would build a large church in exchange. When the plague ended in July 1577, the new Doge Sebastiano Venier honoured this promise to God and built a temporary wooden church in a couple of days. In 1578, he also started a new tradition by installing a temporary bridge for a pilgrimage across the Giudecca Canal from Zattere to the church. The wooden church was later replaced by the Redentore church, named after the Redeemer.