VENICE, Italy —The crypt of St. Mark’s Basilica was completely flooded last Wednesday, after Venice’s water levels hit the highest level in more than 50 years.
Local authorities have called for a state of emergency after one man died in the worst flooding in Venice in decades. The high-water mark reached over 6 feet, the highest level since 1966.
Patriarch Francesco Moraglia, and the city’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, inspected the damage at St. Mark’s Basilica together on Nov. 13, the morning after the heavy rains subsided.
"St. Mark’s Basilica has suffered serious damage, as has the entire city and the islands,” Mayor Brugnaro confirmed after the visit.
“Venice is on its knees,” Brugnaro wrote in a Twitter Nov. 13 post with photos of him and the patriarch at the basilica.
#Venezia è in ginocchio. La Basilica di San Marco ha subito gravi danni come l’intera città e le isole.
Siamo qui con il Patriarca Moraglia per portare il nostro sostegno ma c’è bisogno dell’aiuto di tutti per superare queste giornate che ci stanno mettendo a dura prova. pic.twitter.com/3Qy7070hZn
— Luigi Brugnaro (@LuigiBrugnaro) November 13, 2019
Patriarch Moraglia said he is concerned above all for those who sleep on the streets of Venice and said that he hopes that Venice parishes will be the first to open their doors to them.
“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,” Patriarch Moraglia said, according to ACI Stampa.
In St. Mark’s Basilica’s 926-year history, there have been only six floods of similar severity. In October 2018, floodwaters 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 Nov. 13 to avoid repeating the damage caused last year when part of the nearly 1,000-year-old marble floor of the basilica was left under flood water for 16 hours.
Brugnaro said after his visit to the basilica: “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.”