The diminishing population in Venice means that many churches are struggling to attract enough followers to stay open. Venice's churches are renowned for their extensive treasure trove of religious art and artifacts; however, the churches are closing down because of declining congregations.
The decrease in the number of faithful's that are turning up for church services is a great indicator of the drop in the World Heritage city's population. The decline has come from around 175,000 after the Second World War to just 55,000 today.
On of the sparsely-populated island known as On Le Vignole, the parish priest of Santa Maria Assunta church recently put up a poignant sign which indicted that mass had been cancelled due to a lack of parishioners. The parish priest indicated that he was available on request if a large enough congregation could be congregated.
Father Mario Sgorlon made a statement saying that at the moment he managed to hold Mass once a month, adding that nobody turns up in the winter, because it is cold and damp and everyone stays at home.
Unfortunately, Catholic authorities are considering allowing the churches to be turned into art galleries, museums and libraries based on the prospect of dozens of churches having to close. Francesco Moraglia, the Patriarch or archbishop of Venice revealed that there are around 100 churches in Venice, which is more than the community now needs.
The head of the Venice diocese pointed out that there has been an undeniable demographic trend which meant that Venice had too few people to fill its church pews on a regular basis. Moraglia also suggested that the underused churches could be converted into exhibition centres for sculpture and art, concert venues and welfare centres.
The Church has revealed plans to convert 10 churches where Mass is no longer celebrated to other uses. The State funds are supplied in short supply; hence the diocese is hoping to obtain public financing for the project.
Speaking to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, Monsignor Ettore Fornezza, the parish priest on the tiny island of Torcello said that growing secularism and ageing congregations has caused some priests to remain defiant.
The parish priest also emphasized that as long as he has a single parishioner, he will celebrate Mass.