The historical documents of the city of Chioggia recall in a very gloomy hues an afternoon of June 24, 1508 when a violent hurricane broke out: the sky was covered by dense and low clouds, rumbling thunder, blinding flashes, deluge, terrible roar of the sea in storm. Panic had spread everywhere.
Everybody was praying in their homes, desperate cries were launched by fishermen caught at sea by the fort. Only in the evening did the hurricane subside and an old guardian of vines, a certain Carlo Baldissera Zalon, came out of his hut observing, all mortified and disconsolate, the havoc produced by the terrible storm. Suddenly he heard a voice calling from the sea; he turned and saw a majestic Lady.
She was dressed in a black cloak and sat on a trunk of a tree pushed on towards the beach by the waves. The Lady, who turned out to be the Mother of God, told him that she was deeply saddened by the unruly life led by the people of Chioggia, in particular for:
“Desecrations of the public holiday, for the vice of blasphemy and the practice of a brazen immorality”.
The hurricane, with its ruins, was only a warning of a worse cataclysm if the city had not converted and done penance. Then She asked him:
“Inform the Bishop of the apparition and ask him, in My name, to call for a crusade of prayers, penances and exhortations to ward off the serious evils that oppress Christian life.”
Before disappearing on a stationary boat not far from the beach, she showed herself to him with her Son just as she received him on her knees after being deposed from the Cross, that is, with a torn body, all bruised, sored and bleeding. Mary told him:
“So this is how the sins of your fellow citizens have reduced Him.”
A small wooden chapel was immediately built on the site and, later, a church, consecrated in 1585. The Capuchin Franciscans have been the custodians of the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Navicella [Our Lady of the Boat] since 17 October 1957.
The Madonna, as it is depicted in the Navicella church, also appeared to the young Natalino Scarpa on August 4, 1716 in Pellestrina, in the province of Venice.
VIDEO PILGRIMAGE: (audio in italian)