Pope Alexander III undercover in Venice

Numerous artworks remember the important intermediary role of Venice during the peace negotiations between Pope Alexander III and Frederick I. Barbarossa, but did you know that the pope lived at first unrecognized in the city?

The first night in Venice

It’s under the sotoportego de la Madona that the legendary pope is said to have passed his first night in Venice on his flight from the imperial spies. He then continued working another six months “undercover” in the kitchen of the Convent Santa Maria della Carità (today known as the Accademia Gallery) when his true identity was discovered and revealed by a French monk.

Thanks to the Doge Sebastiano Zani the peace treaty between Pope Alexander III and Frederick I was signed in 1177. The pope thanked Venice for its help with commercial privileges and, amongst others, a ring that still plays an important role in one of the most important festivities of the city on the water: the Festa della Sensa.

Eternal indulgence

You recognize the sotoportego thanks to a wooden panel and a tiny statue (of the Madonna and the pope) that remember the first night of the pope under this sotoportego. Next to the sotoportego you find the Calle del Perdon and a cross carved into stone at the very beginning and at the end of this calle: Pope Alexander III decided that everyone who would recite a Pater Noster and an Ave Maria in this Calle (walking between this two crosses) would receive eternal indulgence.

Venezia: Sotoportego de la Madona Shrine
Venezia: Sotoportego de la Madona Shrine

This post is also available in: German