The crypt of St. Mark’s Basilica is left completely flooded after Venice’s water levels hit the highest level in more than 50 years.
“The Basilica is suffering structural damage because the water has risen and so it’s causing irreparable damage, especially when it dries out in the lower section of the mosaics and tiling,” Francesco Moraglia, Patriarch of Venice, told a news conference.
“Venice is on its knees,” Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro wrote on Twitter, with photos of him and the patriarch at the basilica.
Italy was hit by heavy rainfall on Tuesday 12 November, with further bad weather forecast in the coming days. Venice suffers flooding on a yearly basis.
St Mark’s Basilica was flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years, according to church records. The basilica’s crypt was completely flooded and there are fears of structural damage to its columns.
In October 2018, flood waters inside the basilica damaged part of the marble mosaic floor of the Madonna Nicopeia chapel. Church staff cleared water and mopped the floors of the flooded basilica on 13 November to avoid repeating the damage caused last year, according to Catholic News Agency, when part of the nearly 1,000 year old marble floor of the basilica was left under flood water for 16 hours.
Patriarch Moraglia expressed hope that Venice’s parishes will be the first to open their doors to those who sleep on Venice’s streets.
“To my Venetians, so much closeness, I have asked Caritas to be active in all possible ways, and I also make available emergency funds for charity,” he said, according to ACI Stampa.
Mayor Brugnaro also appealed for the community to work together after local authorities called for a state of emergency.
“We are here with Patriarch Moraglia to show our support, but we need everyone’s help to overcome these days that are putting us to the test,” he said after visiting the basilica.
Picture: Tourists and their luggage wade in a flooded street after a high tide in Venice, Italy, on 13 November 2019. (Andrea Merola/ANSA via AP)