'Dragon Bones' of Santa Maria e San Donato

Feb 01, 2019 202

The Basilica of Santa Maria e San Donato dates to the seventh century, back when the islands comprising the Venetian archipelago were a loose association communities seeing refugee from Germanic invasions. The church’s original dedication was only to Santa Maria—”e San Donato” (“and St. Donatus”) was added in 1125 after the remains of the saint and the dragon he killed were stolen from Cephalonia by Venetian Doge Domenico Michiel.

The provenance of the beastly bones prior to the 12th century is lost to history. What is known starts in the 1120s, when Doge Michiel sailed out on a crusade to the Holy Land to assist the beleaguered King of Jerusalem, Baldwin II. Venice’s main objective was to smash the Fatimid Egyptian blockade of the eastern Mediterranean, but seeing that the Byzantines had recently gotten on Venice’s nerves by canceling a valuable trade agreement, Doge Michiel took his time looting Byzantine Greece on his way to meet Baldwin. Among the resulting plunder were the remains of St. Donatus, along with the bones of the dragon.

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SOURCE: https://www.atlasobscura.com

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