The Origins of Quarantine in Lent

The observation of this year’s Lent finds the world under an unprecedented global quarantine. A coincidence of course, but a coincidence that might be meaningful perhaps, as coincidences often are for those who observe them. The world derives from the Italian expression quaranta giorni—that is, a period of 40 days during which any ship sailing to Venice had to remain moored away from the city’s port as a precaution against the plague.