Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 12: Venice, Part 7

October 1, 2021


Santa Maria della Salute Church

This is a church near the mouth of the Grand Canal, with a large round dome (cupola).

In the 17th century, the plague ravaged Venice and caused death to about a third of the population in just two years.

After the epidemic subsided, the Venetian government commissioned an architect, Longhena, to design a church in gratitude to the Virgin Mary.

He spent 50 years completing the construction.

The church, with its pure white octagonal marble structure crowned by a large cupola, shines in the sunlight and the waters of the canal.

It symbolizes the city, Venice, and is a masterpiece of Venetian Baroque architecture.

It is locally referred to simply as "Salute."

The origin of the word "Salute" is from the Latin word "salvare," meaning "to save."

From "salvare," words like salvage, salvation, salvo, and salute have evolved.

In Central America, the country name El Salvador (The Savior), its capital San Salvador (Holy Savior), and the word salvia (a healing plant) are also derived from "salvare."

"El" in Hebrew means "God," "power," or "strength," which is synonymous with the Hebrew God Yahweh (Jehovah in English).

Therefore, El Salvador refers to the Savior, specifically Jesus Christ.

Biblical figures with names like Immanuel, Elisabeth, Elijah (Elly, Ellie), Michael (Michelle), Samuel, Daniel, and Gabriel contain "El" or "el."

 Additionally, El is thought to be equivalent to the sun god “Helios” in Greek mythology.

The reported solar eclipse at the time of Jesus' crucifixion indicates his connection to the sun god.

When making a toast, in Spain, people say "Salud," in Italy, it's "Salute," in Portugal, "Saude," in France, "Sante," in Germany, "Prost," and in the United States, "Cheers."

These expressions all carry the meaning of "wishing for good health."

In Italy, it's considered etiquette to say "Salute" when someone sneezes.

By the way, in Italy and France, there's a more casual and cheerful toast expression than "Salute" or "Sante" - "Chin-chin."

In Italy, it's written as "Cin-cin," and in France, it's "Tchin-tchin."

It is said that Italians misunderstood the Chinese phrase "chin chin"(Yes, please!) as an invitation to toast and introduced it to their homeland.

The pronunciation of "Chin-chin" reminded Europeans of the clinking sound when glasses touch and led to its widespread use.

In Japanese, "chin chin" has another meaning, but we won't delve into that here.

At the next gathering, I too will join in with the ladies and shout, "Chin-chin!"