The Bòcolo of St Mark

The Bòcolo of St Mark

A representation of love, devotion and hope

On 25 April, Venice has something more to celebrate.
It is not just Liberation Day, it is not just St Mark’s Day, the city’s patron saint, but it is the day a red rosebud is given as a gift.

This custom stems from the legend of the Bòcolo di San Marco (St Mark’s rosebud), a legend that merges with a historical fact that actually happened.
Maria Partecipazio, daughter of Doge Orso I Partecipazio, fell madly in love with a troubadour, Tancredi, but their love met with opposition from her family because of his humble status.
Maria, nicknamed Vulcana because of her passion, then suggested to her beloved to join Charlemagne’s troops who were on their way to Spain to fight against the Moors: in this way she was sure he would distinguish himself for his valour and be revalued by the girl’s family.

So it went: Tancred’s exploits made him known for his courage, but led him to a sad fate. He was wounded in battle and died above a rose garden, dyeing its flowers red. Shortly before his death, he entrusted his friend Orlando with a rosebud to take to Maria, who was waiting to marry him.
When Orlando arrived in Venice, he gave the rose to the maiden along with Tancredi’s last words of love for her.
Maria said nothing, took the rose and locked herself in silence in her room, where she died that night clutching his last pledge of love to her breast.
It was 25 April.

Since then, the tradition has been that every man gives his beloved woman (girlfriend, but also wife, mother, sister or daughter) a rose, in memory of the unhappy love between Maria and Tancredi and to sanction his own present love.


Sign up to our newsletter