Hidden treasures

The theft of the body of Saint Lucia from the church of San Geremia

Historical Curiosities
venezia_santa_lucia

The theft of the body of Saint Lucia from the church of San Geremia

13th December, throughout the Christian world, is devoted to the celebration of Saint Lucia, a martyr from Syracuse, Italy, who lived at the end of the 3rd century AD, venerated as the protector of the eyes.

The body of this saint is today housed in the church of San Geremia, in the Cannaregio district of Venice, but over the centuries it was transferred several times.

In 1039, Giorgio Maniace, a Byzantine general who liberated Syracuse from the Arabs, brought the body of the martyr to Constantinople, but from here it was purloined by the Venetians as part of the booty of the Fourth Crusade in 1204.

The body of Saint Lucia was initially preserved in the church of San Giorgio Maggiore, on the island of the same name... In 1279 the rough sea capsized the boats that had set off to pay homage to the saint from Syracuse killing some pilgrims, so it was decided to transfer the relics to a church in Cannaregio, which was named after the saint and rebuilt by Andrea Palladio in 1580.

In 1860, after the construction of the railway station, the church of Santa Lucia was demolished and the body was transferred to the nearby church of San Geremia.

On 7th November, 1981, two young men armed with guns broke the glass case that kept the body of Saint Lucia and stole the relics, but in the ensuing confusion, left the head and the silver mask.

The relics were found in the lagoon area of Montiron. Gianfranco Tiozzo, a local boy, was arrested and charged for the theft and suspicions were raised over his allegiance to the so called Brenta Mafia. A few months later his partner was imprisoned for aiding and abetting his crime. But in May of 1982 both were acquitted for lack of evidence.

Thus, on 13th December, the day of Saint Lucia, the relics returned to the church of San Geremia, celebrated by a large crowd of worshippers!

If you wish to visit this and other churches in Venice, often little known but not for this reason unworthy of attention during a trip to Venice, we advise you to rely on our brilliant local guides for a private guided tour to discover the lesser known side of Venice.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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