Gondola rides through the canals of Venice how romantic! During the Festa della sensa or Ascension Day, which is celebrated on the Thursday 40 days from Easter, the Venetians held a special ceremony called Sposalizio del Mare or “marriage to the [Adriatic] sea”. Through this annual ceremony the city of Venice and the Sea were symbolically joined in matrimony; emphasizing their co-existence and commitment to one another.
Back in the day, the elected Doge or The Chief Magistrate of Venice, would be joined by a number members of the elite and clerical class aboard the city’s barge (a flat-bottomed boat). The first barge, the Bucentaur, was built in 1311.
Once past the island of St. Elena, the ceremony would begin. The priest would belch out supplications, requesting that the sea be calm and quiet for all those whom find themselves in its midst. While praying he would spray the Doge and other important guests with holy water. After this whole ritual, the doge would throw a consecrated ring into the sea while reciting the latin phrase “Desponsamus te, mare, in signum veri perpetuique domini” translated as “We wed thee, sea, in the sign of the true and everlasting Lord” making the nuptials official!