The facade of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. / Credit: Marco Rubino/Shutterstock
CNA Staff, Dec 8, 2023 / 17:00 pm (CNA).
Climate activists on Thursday vandalized the facade of the nearly 1,000-year-old St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy, reportedly defacing it with mud and chocolate milk as part of an environmental demonstration.
Demonstrators with the group Last Generation poured “mud and Nesquik” onto the front of the cathedral, according to the Associated Press. There was “no immediate word” of permanent damage to the structure, the news wire said.
Several media outlets reported that the activists said they were “sound[ing] the alarm” because Venice “is a city that is sinking because our governments have not acted against the climate crisis.”
“Today those of you who are here to take pictures and see this church have a privilege,” the demonstrators reportedly declared. “You are the last to be able to see this church above sea level.”
Footage circulating on social media depicted the activists during the vandalization, with one member of the group defacing the church with what appeared to be a pressurized can of liquid.
Climate activists in Venice poured mud and Nesquik outside of St. Mark’s Basilica as a form of peaceful protest. They cited the threat of rising sea levels on Venice, the mudslides that have destroyed Italian communities, and Pope Francis’ call to protect the environment. pic.twitter.com/kGfKYxkxHb
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) December 7, 2023
Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said in a Facebook post on Thursday that the incident was a “serious and shameful act that we firmly condemn.”
“Climate activists recently smeared the outside of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, apparently with liquid mixed with mud,” Brugnaro said, expressing hope that the structure was “without permanent damage.”
“Enough is enough,” he wrote. “It is legitimate to express your dissent, but always respecting the law and our cultural and religious heritage.”
“Our city takes concrete actions to protect the environment,” he added. “Vandalism is certainly not the correct method to find solutions.”
The Patriarchate of Venice did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday morning. Last Generation’s Italian chapter also did not respond to a request for comment.
On its X feed, the group shared images of the incident, including one of a protester waving what appeared to be a flare of some kind.
Venezia – Fango sulla Basilica di San Marco
Potranno arrestarci tutti, ma non cambierà il fatto che le loro menzogne presto porteranno il conto.
— Fondo Riparazione | Ultima Generazione (@UltimaGenerazi1) December 7, 2023
“They may arrest us all, but it won’t change the fact that their lies will soon take their toll,” the group wrote in the post.
On its website, the group says it is “asking the Italian government for a permanent and preventive fund of 20 billion [euros] to repair the damage of the climatic catastrophes that are destroying our lives.”
“We want this money to be always present and ready for use,” the group says on its website. “If five billion come out, five come back, within a month.”