San Martino

In the sestiere of Castello, you will find the Chiesa San Martino, named for the Bishop  Martin of Tours.

While still a young man, and serving in the military, he saw a beggar who was blue with cold, on a bitter winter day. The story goes that Martin removed his warm cape and slashed it in half, giving one part to the beggar.

This event has been portrayed in art over the years, and is what you will see depicted in this 15th century bas-relief over the door of the former Scuola di San Martino, which is to the right of the facade of the church.

In Venice, the saint’s feast day is celebrated on 11 November, with children  going around the ‘streets’ making noise with various objects, like pots and pans, asking for money and candies. You will also find special St Martin’s cakes on sale,  decorated with colorful glacé icing, sweets and chocolate chips, shaped like St Martin on horseback.

I wonder how they moved from a humble, generous saint, to this form of celebration?




Filed under Venice

9 responses to “San Martino

  1. Ciao, bella Daniela! You have so much of interest on your site. How do you get the time to do everything!


  2. Maybe the decoration of the cake is only a way to have a richer cake than the simple biscuit shape of San Martino.
    Saint Martin is very famous in Venetian area because of the Lombard origin. I wrote a post about some stories of saints that maybe could be of interested for you:


  3. Michelle

    Sigh! I know it will be gone in the blink of an eye. Sniff, sniff.


  4. Michelle

    It probably evolved just like Christmas…or Halloween.
    On my trip in 2008 the shop windows already had those cookies on display.


  5. Melissa

    Yvonne, I think it’s time you wrote a book about Venice, I love all your wonderful little stories.

    I see the saint’s feast day is celebrated on our remembrance day!

    I’ve been wandering the streets banging pots and pans asking for money and candy, but…………….nothing! 😉


    • Melissa, first you have to do some publicity in the daily newspaper in Brissie, and on the morning TV shows, all about St. Melissa Day. Then, you go into your act with the pots and pans. Good luck.


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