Alfred Bohm ‘Blick In Das Innere Von San Marco’
There are two pulpits in the church. The one to the right of the choir was predominantly used to introduce the newly elected doge to the public, and is still used today by the patriarch of Venice when he delivers a speech. The one to the left is a very rare pulpit because it has two floors, which may very well be the only one in the world. The top floor is meant for lectures from the gospels, the bottom floor for reading Old Testament texts or Apostolic Letters. Translated from: Luc Verhuyck ‘Venezia Anekdotische reisgids’ Athenaeum-Polak & van Gennep, Amsterdam 2011 p.89
The sarcophagus in which Saint Marcus is buried is kept beneath the altar. You can see the sarcophagus through a bronze gate. According to legend, the body of Saint Marcus was lost in the fire of 976, but appeared miraculously when the new church was consecrated in 1094.
The choir of the church was built over a crypt and is being separated of the rest of the church by a roodscreen. The main altar in the choir is covered with a baldachin that is supported by four sculptured alabaster columns with scenes from the New Testament.
“The altarpiece is 3 meters wide by 2 meters tall. It is made of gold and silver, 187 enamel plaques, and 1,927 gems. These include 526 pearls, 330 garnets, 320 emeralds, 255 sapphires, 183 amethysts, 175 agates, 75 rubies, 34 topazes, 16 carnelians, and 13 jaspers.” Source: Wikipedia
In 1345, Paolo Veneziano and his sons painted two wooden tablets (each measuring 3.25 x 0.59 m) simultaneously with the restoration of the Pala d’Oro, which was commissioned by Doge Andrea Dandolo. The two tablets, which are commonly referred to as the “Pala feriale,” were affixed to the lower tier of the Pala d’Oro and were exclusively taken off during liturgical solemnities. Read more about Pala d’Oro: Manuel Gracia ‘The Pala d’Oro in ST Mark, Venice’ pdf
According to popular belief, after a long period of praying and fasting during Holy Mass at the inauguration of the new basilisk on June 26, 1094, a scratching noise was heard coming from a pillar in the right transept, with the stone beginning to flake and a vibration was felt. Slowly, the startled crowd started to realize what was happening. First they saw a finger, then a hand, then an entire arm and finally the entire body of the saint emerged from the pillar. The gathered crowd, priests and canons, even the doge himself; all stood witness to this extraordinary event. A marble plate on the inside of the left pillar across from the Sacrament altar (left in the side aisle, immediately left behind the altar of San Giacomo) indicate this miracle’s location. The remains were then first placed in a crypt below the church, but placed underneath the main altar in the nineteenth century. Translated from: Luc Verhuyck ‘Venezia Anekdotische reisgids’ Athenaeum-Polak & van Gennep, Amsterdam 2011 p. 83
“The date and the circumstances of the icon’s [Madonna Nicopeia] arrival in Venice are not documented. Most likely one of many sacred images taken from Constantinople at the time of the Latin Empire, it was deposited in St Mark’s treasury, with no specific importance associated. It began to acquire significance for the Venetians in the fourteenth century when it was framed with Byzantine enamels looted from the Pantokrator in Contantinople. At that time, it may have been first carried in public procession to invoke the Virgin’s intercession in ridding the city of the Black Death. The icon acquired a political role as the palladium of Venice in the sixteenth century when it came to be identified as the sacred image that had been carried into battle by various Byzantine emperors. In 1589, the icon was transferred to the small Chapel of Saint Isidore where it was made accessible to the public, and subsequently it was placed on the side altar in the northern crossarm. It was first referred to as the Madonna Nicopeia (Nikopoios, Bringer of Victory) in 1645.” Source: Wikipedia
The treasure house
There is a small door in the south transept that leads to the treasure house of the basilica. The treasure house contains a large amount of war booty from after the Fall of Constantinople in 1204. Many of the treasures were melted in times of crisis.
A big part was robbed after the fall of the Republic. In the 19th century some of the treasure had to be sold by the government to get money. Nevertheless this treasure house contains one of the most important collections Byzantine gold forging. Besides gold forging this treasure house contains valuable icons, censers, reliquaries and goblets (Wikipedia pictures and Wikipedia Treasury).
The rector of the University of Paris, Guillaume Fichet (right), presents his Rhetoric, printed at Paris in 1471, to Cardinal Bessarion. Book illumination in the presentation copy of the incunabulum, Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Membr. 53, fol. 1r.