Hidden treasures

The Madonna with nail holes in her hands in the church of Santa Maria Mater Domini in Venice.

Historical Curiosities

The Madonna with nail holes in her hands in the church of Santa Maria Mater Domini in Venice.

In the beautiful Renaissance church of Santa Maria Mater Domini in Venice (designed by the famous architect Jacopo Sansovino) there is an unusual multicolored Byzantine 13th century relief in the left transept: a Madonna praying with outstretched arms and nail holes in her hands.

It is in reality an ancient ritual fountain. During the Byzantine empire water that was considered sacred spurted out from the hands of an image of the Virgin Mary and collected at the bottom to be used by worshippers during blessings.

This oriental custom did not exist in Venice, and after arriving at the church of Santa Maria Mater Domini in Venice the relief ceased to be used as a fountain and became a mere altar pall, but legend has it that the relief continued to dispense miracles and that it adorned the major altar of the Medieval church.

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By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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