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  The List    The Lost Churches

 

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Cristo Re alla Celestia
La Pietà
Santa Maria della Pietà
San Biagio
San Francesco della Vigna
San Francesco di Paola

Santi Bartolomeo e Francesco di Paola

San Giorgio dei Greci
(Greek Orthodox)
San Giovanni Battista in Brágora
San Giovanni di Malta
Gran Priorale
San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti
San Lio
San Lorenzo
San Martino
San Pietro di Castello

now on page 2
San Zaccaria
San Zaninovo
San Giovanni Novo in Oleo
San Zanipolo Santi Giovanni e Paulo
Sant’Anna
Sant’Antonin
Sant’Elena
Sant’Isepo
San Giuseppe di Castello
Santa Giustina
Santa Maria Ausiliatrice
San Gioacchino
Santa Maria dei Derelitti
Ospedaletto
Santa Maria del Pianto
Santa Maria della Fava
Santa Maria della Consolazione
Santa Maria Formosa


non-catholic
Valdese e Metodista
Chiesa Valdese
(Evangelical Waldesian and Methodist)


 

Cristo Re alla Celestia
Favaretto Fisca/Lirussi 1950-52
 


History
The original church building dates from 1459. Along with its convent it was closed by Napoleon in the early 19th Century, but re-established by the Franciscan Nuns of Christ in 1878. In 1950 work began on a new larger church, designed by the engineer G. Favaretto Fisca and the architect G. Lirussi. The building was consecrated in 1952 and at present houses the Institute of the Franciscan Nuns of Christ the King, founded by Princess Benedetta Savoia Carignano and Angela Canal, a noblewoman from Venice.

Interior
A squarish nave and two aisles with a plain coffered ceiling and a shiny marble floor. There is a gallery connecting the church to the convent, and a small chapel to the right of the entrance.

A visit (8.2008)
Brigitte Eckert, a fellow fan of Venetian churches, and kind provider of many photos to this site, spoke to a passing nun and managed to get invited in. She writes...

She asked me to come in because this was one of the rare times (as she told me) when the church door is open. There were some very slim very pale nuns dressed in white, kneeling in prayer and moving noiselessly and kind of ghostly about so there was no way to take pictures inside.

But it is like you describe it: a 2-storey high nave and 2 aisles with the 2 storeys separated. There are 6 round vaults on each side of the nave in the ground floor and 12 on the second floor (looks like the first 2 storeys in the Fondacho dei Tedeschi, the post office at the Rialto). I suppose the second floors of the aisles are to have the nuns separated and invisible. If you look at the windows from outside there is the suggestion they are high, but inside they're separated between the 2 storeys and simply rectangular in the ground floor (the second floor windows you can't see from inside).
The ceiling is plainly coffered in white and golden little squares, the floor is white Istrian stone very brightly polished with a few black transverse inlay lines. There is space for 11 rows of pews. I didn't look into the (very very!) small chapel right of the entrance, would have been kind of indiscreetness.

It's very typical post-war church architecture, functional, humble. The only decorations are an embroidered cloth of a cross in the apse, colourful and in a modern kind of Byzantine impression, and small bronze Way of the Cross sculptures at the walls of the aisles, also typical 50s style.

Another visit (5.2010)
I found it, by accident - you take the Calle del Cimetro East from San Francesco della Vigna, and there it is. I didn't feel comfortable going in with nuns in there praying, but snuck a photo (right).


Opening
times Rarely, if a nun accidentally leaves the door open.

Vaporetto
San Zaccaria


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La Pietà
Giorgio Massari 1745-60
 


History

Famous as the church of the Ospedale della Pietà, the orphanage where Vivaldi taught and for whose talented girls he composed most of his concerti and oratorios. The complex had been enlarged in 1388, and modernised in 1493 and 1515. The current building dates from a rebuilding of the chapel of the Pietà between 1745-60 on a new site. It was finished well after Vivaldi's death, but it is possible that the composer advised the architect, Giorgio Massari, on the positioning of the choirs and the use of a vestibule to provide a barrier to the noises of the Riva. Massari had won a competition in 1735 to provide plans for the reconstruction of the whole complex, but only the church was ever built. The façade was finally finished in 1906.

Interior
Oval-shaped, like a concert hall, and designed for acoustics, particularly for choral performance. The ceiling painting is The Coronation of the Virgin, one of four works here by Tiepolo
.

Opening times
You might get a limited look around when the box office is open, but otherwise you'll have to stump up for tickets to listen to a concert of (reportedly unsparkling) performances of Vivaldi concerti to get a good look.

Vaporetto
San Zaccaria

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San Biagio
Francesco Bognolo 1749-54
 








David Orme snatched this one.




This photo and those of the Emo memorial and the ceiling fresco are by Francesco Boraldo
 
History

Originally built in 1052 by the Boncigli family for the use of new immigrants. From 1470 the Council of Ten allowed the church to be used by Venice's large Greek Orthodox community, considered heretics at the time and so only allowed the use of this small and non-central church. In 1498 they were further given permission to establish a Scuola here, in the name of St Nicholas. As early as 1511 Greek soldiers had been petitioning the Council of Ten to grant them larger premises, as they were not happy sharing San Biagio which due to the  'mixture of peoples, tongues, voices and services ... creates a confusion worse than Babylon'. It was also too small for their growing congregation and had no space for burials, so that they were forced to 'mingle our bones with those of galleymen, porters and other low creatures' burying their dead 'upon the public way' where they were 'dug up up and thrown into the water within a few days of burial' to make way for others to be buried, this being the sole source of income for the poor church.
They eventually moved to San Giorgio in 1543.

The present church dates from a rebuilding of 1749-54 by Francesco Bognolo, the architect of the Arsenale, brought about by the previous church falling into disrepair. Closed in 1810 and reopened in 1817 as the parish church of the Navy. True to its more than somewhat functional appearance it is now part of the naval museum next door with a naval chaplain officiating at rare services.

Interior
Ceiling frescoes attributed to Scagliaro (see photo below). Monument to Admiral Angelo Emo, by Giovanni Ferrari, taken from the demolished church of Santa Maria dei Servi and placed here in 1818. He was the last admiral of the Venetian Navy, who defeated the Bey of Tunis in 1784-86 and invented the floating battery, which can be seen with him on his monument (see photo below). There are also five altars taken from the church of Sant'Anna. The local scuole, and their patron saints, are commemorated in the church and include not only the rope-makers and hemp-tanners that you'd expect, but also cap-makers, doughnut vendors and vendors of cheap food.

Opening times Very rare

Vaporetto
Arsenale

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San Francesco della Vigna
Jacopo Sansovino 1534/Andrea Palladio 1568-72/Pietro & Tullio Lombardo
 


History
This church is built where, tradition says, Saint Mark was driven ashore by a storm on his way back from Aquileia. Here he was told by an angel that the Lagoon was to be his resting place and that the city that shall rise on these lagoons will call you its protector. The original medieval church was built by Franciscans in 1253 on the site of a chapel in a vineyard (vigna) which marked the spot. This church can be seen now only on Barbari's map of the city. Some sources claim that this original small chapel survived until demolition in 1810.

Beginning in 1534, Sansovino's reconstruction was at the behest of Doge Andrea Gritti with the intention of revitalising the area. It created arguably the first Venetian Renaissance interior, but Sansovino failed to complete the façade (his design is now only preserved on a medal) and so in the 1560s Giovanni Grimini paid for one from Palladio, which was erected in 1568. It was his first ecclesiastical commission and it's a fine and soaring thing (and unusually three-dimensional for him). Palladio had hoped that the building which half obscures his façade would be demolished, but it wasn't, and so it can only be appreciated partially or obliquely. In the mid-1990s this façade was found to be falling away and was reattached and restored by Venice in Peril. The church had suffered bomb damage in 1917.

The Palladian-style overhead gallery supported on columns, which is usually one's first view of this church (see photo right) was built in the mid-19th Century by A. Pigazzi. It linked the former Convento delle Pizzochere to the West, which was acquired by the Observant Franciscans in 1838, with the Palazzo Nunciato, which had previously been a palace belonging to Doge Andrea Gritti, who is buried in the church. (This palazzo housed the Papal Legate, a fact commemorated by the nearby Salizzade della Gatte, or alley of the female cats, a sweet corruption: la gatte/legate, you see?)  Both buildings were taken over by the Italian government in 1866 for use as a military tribunal.

The church
The interior is in the shape of a Latin cross with a single nave and no aisles, but the nave has been extended to form a T-shape: the symbol of salvation and perfection. The harmonious and plainly pleasing interior is in keeping with the austerity of the Observant Franciscans' beliefs, and is said to derive from Prior Francesco Zianni's study of neo-Platonic proportions, and his subsequent messing with Sansovino's plans in order to reflect these beliefs. The proportions were adjusted to conform with the sacred geometry of the number three, as set out in Friar Francesco Zorzi's De harmonia mundi of 1525 (This book remained a standard work of renaissance occult philosophy for a century, but has never been translated into a modern language.) The Ark of the Covenant and The Temple of Solomon were made to the same proportions, or so the theory goes, and there's a relationship to musical harmony in there too. But elsewhere you might read that Sansovino himself, influenced by his friend Titian, planned the church to reflect the mystic properties of the number seven.

There are five chapels on each side of the nave, some more decorated than others. The first on the left is very finely frescoed by Battista Franco (called Il Semolei) with an Adoration of the Magi over the altar by Federico Zuccari. The third on the left is a shiny white marble box with much carving, and some trompe l'oeil painting in the corners by Tiepolo. The ceiling, which looks like the work of Tiepolo too, is actually by Girolamo Pellegrini.

The sacristy (through a door in the left transept that also takes you to the Capella Santa) contains a Sansovino altar and some not-great paintings.

Art highlights
The Giustinian chapel, fifth on the left, contains Veronese's Virgin and Child with Saints John the Baptist, Catherine and Anthony Abbot, an altarpiece that is well worth some money in the light and a linger. It was his first major piece of work in Venice, painted around 1551, fours years before he settled here. Its pyramidal and asymmetrical structure shows the influence of Titian's Pesaro Altarpiece in the Frari. Another Giustinian chapel (the big one to the left of the chancel) has a bas-relief of The Life of Christ by Pietro Lombardo, with reliefs of the four evangelists by his son Tullio.
Another Veronese, a Resurrection of Christ in the forth chapel along on the right-hand side, is less lovable and is only an attrib.

The Capella Santa contains a Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor (see below) a late Giovanni Bellini which is rather fine despite being obviously ‘and studio’, especially the faces of some of the saints, although the portrait of the donor (Giacomo Dolfin) was changed later. Vasari says that Bellini originally provided the church with 'a beautiful picture of the dead Christ' which was so admired by King Louis XI of France that it had to be presented to him as a gift, and that the replacement was less good and reputed to be mostly the work of a pupil of Bellini called Girolamo Mocetti.

Also an odd Madonna and Child Enthroned by Fra Antonio da Negroponte in the right transept. It's his only work, and although it was painted in the mid 15th century it's eccentrically gothic and tapestry-like, with a sumptuously-painted gown on the Virgin, painted paper inserts and some quirky figures and classical architecture. The lunette, added later and depicting Padre Eterno, is by Benedetto Diana (or by Francesco Bissolo, a follower of Giovanni Bellini).

The Save Venice pages for this church have good reproductions of these paintings.

The church in art
View of the Campo and the Church of San Francesco della Vigna by Francesco Guardi (below right). And (further below right) an engraving of the church by Carlevarijs.

Lost art
A relief of The Virgin and Child with God the Father (see right) by Giovanni Buora, partner to Pietro Lombardo, is now in the Victoria & Albert museum in London. It was probably once in one of the Giustinian chapels.

Tintoretto's Christ Carried to the Tomb, made for the altar of the dal Basso family chapel, is now in National Gallery of Scotland. The disembodied pair of feet top left are all that's left after a lunette depicting the hill of Golgotha and an angel was cut off some time before it was stolen in 1648.

A
fresco depicting The Conversion of Mary Magdalene by Federico Zuccaro, formerly in the Grimani chapel here, is now lost. A copy by Pedro Campaña is in the National Gallery in London.

The church in film/TV
The convent with the row of columns in front (see above) stands in for the Questura headquarters in the German TV adaptations of Donna Leon's Brunetti novels.

Ruskin said
Base Renaissance, but must be visited in order to see the John Bellini.

Cloisters

In a city not chock-full of such spaces this church has a connected pair of lovely, visitable and very photographable cloisters (see above right) amongst the oldest in Venice. A third, larger, one with only two wings is less frequently open to visitors.

Campanile 69m (224ft)
electromechanical bells

The 12th Century campanile was repeatedly damaged by lightning and then demolished in 1489. The current tower is one of Venice's tallest, along with the Frari's and after San Marco's, upon which it was modelled. It was designed by Bernardo Ongarin and built between 1571 and 1581. Ongarin is buried at its base, as commemorated by a plaque.

Opening times
Daily 8.00-12.30, 3.00-7.00

Vaporetto Celestia

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San Francesco di Paola
1588-1619
 




 


History
In 840 a church was built on this site dedicated to St Demetrius of Thessalonica. It was renovated in 1070 and dedicated to St Bartholomew. In 1291 Bartolomeo Querini, the Bishop of Castello had a hospice built here for the elderly and the infirm also dedicated to San Bartolomeo. This complex was taken over by the Friars Minor (the Minim Friars) in 1580 They converted the hospice to a monastery eight years later and rebuilt the church in its current form, with the continued patronage of the Querini family. It was consecrated on August 8th 1619.  The monastery was suppressed in 1806, became a barracks and was  demolished in 1885 to make way for the building of a school. You may notice that a clock has been painted on the right hand side of the façade and wonder why. I asked an attendant and was told that it commemorates the fact that Saint Francis died at 9.30. Hmm.

Interior
The church was remodelled in the late 18th Century, but the ceiling was preserved. An aisleless nave with a barco (nun's choir stall) along the back wall with arms stretching half way down the sides. There are four shallow chapels each side with the first ones, at the back, being under the nun's gallery.

Art highlights
All the good art here is at clerestory level or on the ceiling, the latter being  by Giovanni Contarini (1603), a pupil of Titian. They were commissioned by Cesare Carafa at a cost of more than 80 gold ducats. One of the inevitable paintings by Palma Giovane here depicts four female saints, but has oddly had a hole cut into it top centre for a small somewhat primitive painting of the Madonna and Child to be inserted. Also San Francesco di Paula heals a possessed man, one of the series of scenes from the life of the saint, is said to be by Giandomenico Tiepolo. The presbytery vault frescoes are by Michele Schiavone.


In the press
The church was mentioned in an article about Venice's declining population in the UK Guardian in March 2009.
Today the cavernous interior of the church of San Francesco di Paola, complete with a Giandomenico Tiepolo painting, draws as few as eight worshippers to mass. "We did get 150 in for Ash Wednesday," said priest Don Giuseppe Faustini, "and we do fill up for funerals."

Opening times
8.00-12.00, 4.00-7.00

Vaporetto Giardini

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The old church of San Bartolomeo is visible on
de' Barbari's map of 1500 in the top left hand corner,
 beyond the spire of the demolished church of San Domenico.
 

San Giorgio dei Greci
Sante Lombardo/Giannantonio Chiona 1539-1573

 



History
Built for the Greek community in Venice, who had previously shared the church of San Biagio and who numbered around 4000 at the time. Greek scholars contributed much towards Venice's dominance of the printing trade at the time, and thereby also to its eminence as a seat of Renaissance learning. The church was financed by taxing all the Greek ships arriving in Venice.  It was built in a Renaissance style reminiscent of Sansovino by Sante Lombardo from the laying of the foundation stone in 1539 until his death in 1547, and finished by Giannantonio Chiona. The church was consecrated in 1561 with the cupola by Chiona (and not Palladio, as has been claimed) added ten years later.

The adjoining late-17th Century buildings are by Baldassare Longhena, whose work unites the complex. They are the Collegio Flangini and the smaller Scuola di San Nicolo, now a museum of Byzantine icons. The wall along the canal is also by Longhena. It encloses the rather lovely courtyard around the church, with olive trees and two fine well heads. The church itself is free-standing, something of a rarity in Venice.

Interior

Orthodox in style, aisleless with a frescoed central dome and a women's gallery (about the construction of which Palladio was said to have been consulted) over the narthex at the back and there are those dark wooden stalls all around the plain and grubby walls. But the thing which grabs the attention is the iconostasis, the icon screen - a gold overload all covered in 46 icons,  by the 16th Century Cretan artist Michele Damaskinos, amongst others, but  to be contemplated from a fair distance away, it has to be said. The monument to Gabriele Seviros is said to be the first known such work by Longhena.



Campanile
44m (143 ft) manual bells
Built in 1582-92 by Simone Sorella, and leaning ever since. Its adjoining loggia (see below right) is all that remains of the Renaissance cloister.


Opening times
Monday, Wednesday – Saturday:
9.00-1.00, 3.00-5.00

Vaporetto San Zaccaria

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San Giovanni in Brágora
1475
 








 
History
The meaning of in Bragora is uncertain. It could refer to a square (agora), a fishing site (bragolare: to fish), or a marshy area (brago) combined with a stagnant canal (gora). Tradition has it that the first church on this site was among the twelve churches founded by St Magnus in the 8th Century, but the earliest written record dates to the 9th. This later church said to have been built to house relics of St John the Baptist. Rebuilt again in 1178 and 1475. The current Gothic church is this latter 15th Century rebuilding. Restoration with baroque embellishments was carried out in 1728.

The church
The façade is transitional: harking back to the gothic of, say, the Frari but verging on the renaissance style of Codussi, who was said to have been inspired by this church when designing San Michele and San Zaccaria.

Interior
There’s a a ship's-keel roof and old columns. It’s a nicely lofty but compact space - a nave and two aisles with a pair of chapels in each. Unusual gilt decoration on the capitals of the pillars, with painting over the arches too. The last pair before the altar are square, carved and gilt pillars - they were once part of a decorative screen, the work of Sebastiano Mariani da Lugano, which was dismantled in the late 16th Century, with some panels used to line the chancel, which is itself a bit of a surprising burst of rococo.

The architect Massari, who designed the Gesuiati church, the Palzzo Grassi, and the Pietà where Vivaldi famously taught, is buried here. He was born in the campo that you enter if you leave by the side entrance of this church, called the Campiello del Piovan, at No 3752. He is also thought to have been responsible for the redecoration of the chapel housing the remains of San Giovanni Elemosinario here, in 1745.

Art highlights
There are remains of 15th Century frescoes. Cima de Conigliano's impressive Baptism of Christ over the high altar was his first commission in Venice and the first known use of a narrative scene, rather than a formal arrangement of saints, over a high altar in Venice. It was moved up the wall when ecclesiastical dictates saw the altar, which it had rested upon, moved forward in the late 16th Century.  There’s a Virgin with Saints John the Baptist and Andrew by Bartolomeo Vivarini, and a small painting of The Saviour Blessing by Alvise Vivarini, his nephew. Also a Deposition by Bastiani, which was taken from the church of Sant'Antonino.
And there's even quite a likeable Palma il Giovanne on the left-hand side of the chancel, of The washing of the feet, which has a touch of the Tintorettos about it.

Vivaldi connection
He was born in a house in Calle del Dose nearby on 4th March 1678 and was baptised in this church two months later on the 6th of May. In fact this was his second baptism - he'd been hurriedly baptised at home as it was thought that he was too sickly to survive. The font is on display here, as is a copy of his entry in the registry of births.


Campanile
The original one can be seen on Matthaeus Merian's map of 1635 (right) but was demolished (in 1826 or 1728) and replaced with the current belfry.

Opening times
Monday - Saturday:
9.00 - 11.00 & 3.30 – 5.30


Vaporetto San Zaccaria or Arsenale

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San Giovanni di Malta
1565
 


History
The church of San Giovanni del Tempio and the adjacent hospital of St Catherine were built in the 11th-12th Century by the Knights Templar of St John. After the dissolution of the Knights Templar in 1312 the church passed to the Knights of St John of Rhodes, later called the Knights of Malta. The present church dates from a total rebuilding finished in 1565. Both church and monastery were suppressed and stripped by the French in the early 19th Century. The Commenda di Malta, part of this complex, was where the works of art stripped from religious institutions at this time where stored pending a decision as to their fate. The church was repossessed and reopened by the Knights of Jerusalem in 1839 using altars and sculpture from other suppressed churches. An attached chapter house has some faded frescos which have recently been restored.
 
The interior
A tall and boxy aisle-less nave. Over the inlaid marble high altar, which is early 16th Century, by Cristoforo del Legname, are three statues of saints by Bartolomeo Bergamasco taken from the demolished church of San Geminiano. The square apse also contains a Baptism of Christ by the studio of Giovanni Bellini. The large cloister contains many tombs of knights and is lined with their painted coats of arms.

Vaporetto San Zaccaria or Arsenale

Opening times Hardly ever.
But click here for photos of a visite exceptionnelle, by someone else.

Update September 2013 The façade is covered in scaffolding.
Update June 2014 The restoration is done and there's to be an opening celebration on June 29th, with reports that the church is soon to be regularly opened to the public.

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The church is left centre, with the cloister beyond and the
Scuola di San
Giorgio degli Schiavoni bottom left.
 

San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti
Vincenzo Scamozzi/Antonio Sardi/Francesco Contin 1601-31
 









 
 
History
The name derives from the Mendicant Friars who founded the Hospice of St Lazarus in 1601, one of the four Ospedali Maggiori. The order had run the leper hospital of San Lazzaro, on the island of the same name, since 1262. The cloisters of the hospice and the body of the church were designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi and finished in 1631, after his death, with consecration in 1636. The canal-facing façade, designed by Antonio Sardi and based upon an earlier design by Scamozzi was built by Sardi's son Giuseppe and not finished until 1673.
 
Interior
There is a tiled hallway, used as a funerary chapel, between the outer doors and the actual church doors, with the cloisters stretching out through doorways to left and right. In this hallway are several monuments, including two by Sardi.

The church itself is an aisle-less nave with grubby grey walls and stone-coloured and geometrical marble detailing. It was designed (1634-37) by Francesco Contin, for both services and music recitals, with a choir gallery along the right-hand wall. The whole back wall is taken up by the overpowering monument to Alvise Mocenigo, who defeated the Turks in Crete in the 1650s and died in battle in 1654. His statue is in the dark niche in the centre of the monument. The high altar is by Sardi, the altarpiece is The Raising of Lazarus by Giovanni Fino, from 1857, and is not, for me, an artistic highlight of the church. The church has many tombs, including two designed by Longhena, and one for the Rezzonico family.
 
Art highlights
The rear pair of facing altarpieces were both taken from the San Salvatore degli Incurabili church. On the right is a somewhat dingy Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John 'almost certainly' by Veronese. It became better known, and its reputation improved, after its restoration for the 1939 Veronese exhibition in Venice. Opposite is the brighter and better Arrival of St Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins at Cologne (see below) by Jacopo Tintoretto.  The pair on the altars nearest the apse are, on the left, St Helena by Guercino, opposite an Annunciation by Salviati, with an oddly cat-faced Madonna. A quartet that makes this church worth the visit, I think.

Vivaldi connection
Vivaldi's father taught violin at the music school here from 1689-1693. Along with the Pieta it was one of the four institutions in Venice which took in abandoned girls who studied music and were trained to sing and play. The grills in the church behind which the orphan girls sang remain.

Campanile 32m (104ft) no bells
Dating from the 1601-31 building too, it’s plain, even penal-looking, with a sundial on the south-facing side.

The church in art
It peeks in at the left-hand edge of Canaletto's Rio dei Mendicanti: Looking South. Also, from the other direction, the dark and smoky A view of the Rio dei Mendicanti by Guardi has the façade right of centre.


Opening times
Rarely, except for funerals.



Vaporetto Ospedale

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San Lio
Pietro Lombardo  16th Century
 


History
The original 9th Century church was built by the Badoer family and was dedicated to St Catherine. It was rebuilt in 1054 and rededicated to the canonised Pope Leo X, a supporter of the independence of Venice's churches. Early in the 16th Century the church was rebuilt by Pietro Lombardo and his son. Reconsecrated in 1619, with the campanile demolished mid-century. Restored in 1783, with a plain façade retaining the Doric doorway from the early-16th Century church.

Interior
A surprisingly plush and interesting little church - an aisleless nave, created in the 18th Century, with four unsimple side altars, The inner façade has tall credenzas used by local confraternities to house their vestments. The lovely Gussoni chapel to the right of the high altar is early work by Pietro Lombardo (and possibly son Tullio
, for the pieta panel). Restoration in the mid-80s revealed, beneath layers of plaster, fresco decoration between the cupola ribs - a rare remainder in the work of the Lombardos. Canaletto is, tradition says, buried in this very chapel and was baptised in this church. He lived in a house facing onto the nearby Corte Perini.

Art highlights
Works by Giandomenico Tiepolo, including the ceiling fresco of The Apotheosis of St Leo in Glory and the Exhaltation of the Cross (which now has a floor-standing mirror to aid viewing), an altarpiece by Palma Giovane and a late and damaged, but still impressive, Titian painting of the Apostle James. The Crucifixion is by Pietro della Vecchia, who was also known (erroneously) as Pietro Muttoni. His family name was also wrongly thought to be a nickname because he was famous for his emulation of the painting styles of his elders (and betters) which bordered on outright forgery. This painting is described as his best work but also as being more than a little disturbing, which I can't see, unless it's the weirdly calm bunch of burghers painted in at the bottom..

Campanile
Can be seen on the De Barbari map, probably dating from the 1054 building. Only the lower section still remains, in the campo to the left of the entrance. Probably truncated in 1783.

The church in art
Miracle of the Relic of the Holy Cross in Campo San Lio (see far right) c.1494, by Giovanni Mansueti is in the Accademia.  It depicts an event in 1474 when a holy relic would not allow itself to be carried at the funeral of a doubting man, becoming too heavy to carry. The church's façade (presumably the pre-Lombardo version) is to the right in the painting. There's also a drawing in the Uffizi, tentatively attributed to Gentile Bellini, who taught Mansueti, from around the same time, and which is thought to have been the basis of Mansueti's painting. It shows a bit more of the façade and campanile base (see detail near right) and is the earliest surviving topographical drawing of Venice.

Vaporetto Rialto

Opening times Daily 9.00-12.00

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Interior photo by David Orme
















 

San Lorenzo
Simone Sorella, 1592-1602
 

























 
 


History
The original church is said to have been founded in the 6th-7th Century, with its Benedictine convent established in 863 by Orso Partecipazio, who became Doge the year after. Rebuilt several times, the current church dates from a complete rebuilding by Sorella in 1592-1602. But the façade was never even started. Marco Polo had been buried here (as had his father Niccolò) but his sarcophagus was lost during the rebuilding.

Suppressed, along with the convent, in 1810 with its art works dispersed. Some of the convent buildings in front of the church were demolished soon after. In 1842 the complex passed to Dominicans, but in 1865 was returned to the city council. The church was badly damaged in World War 1, but restored in the 1950s (see the black and white photos, taken in March 1955 below). The convent buildings were later converted into a hospital, but have now been made into sheltered housing. 

Interior

A huge single space divided in half by a large three-bay screen with much decorative ironwork. One half was for the public and the other for the nuns. Each half had its own organ.

Nun's misbehaving
Well into the 18th Century the daughters of Venetian nobles were mostly (and famously) likely to end up in convents, the need for hefty dowries meaning that most family's funds could only stretch to the marriage of one daughter if the family were not to be, as they saw it, impoverished. The exploits of these unwilling nuns have been well reported, with San Zaccaria the most famous source of such stories. But even here the second largest convent after San Zaccaria, a nun called Maria de Riva was found to be leaving the convent at night for liaisons with the French ambassador. When the Inquisitori di Stato ordered her to stay in the convent the ambassador objected and a not-inconsiderable diplomatic incident ensued.   

The church in fiction
In Dressed for Death by Donna Leon Commissario Brunetti says: “The brick façade of San Lorenzo had been free of scaffolding for the last few months but the church still remained closed...he knew that the church would never be reopened, not in his lifetime...”


The church in art
The Clothing Ceremony of a Nun at San Lorenzo, a 1789 painting by Gabriel Bella shows the interior of the church. It's in the Querini Stampalia.





Opening times
None, usually, but see below.

Vaporetto San Zaccaria

The campo is also home to a Dingo cat sanctuary. Read more about this (with photos) on the Venice and Cats page on my other website.

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In 2012 San Lorenzo was acquired by Mexico for use as its Biennale location for nine years, with the condition that they restore the place.
To what degree of finish and accessibility this restoration is to be carried out is to be seen.
But for the first time in years some small access has been possible.
 






 
 





















































Photo above by David Orme.

San Martino
Jacopo Sansovino 1546 - 1619
 


History
Named for St Martin of Tours, this church is traditionally said to have been founded in 650, but more reliable sources say 1026, with rebuilding in 1161. The current church dates from a rebuilding of 1546, funded by Antonio Contarini, to a design by Sansovino begun in 1553, and finished around 1619, with consecration following in 1653. The work progressed fitfully, it is thought, due to the poverty of the parish, it being near the Arsenale and populated mostly by poor manual labourers. It had to sell it vineyards to help pay for the church.


The façade
This was erected in 1897 to a design by engineer Federico Berchet and architect Domenico Rupelo. They retained Sansovino's doorway, to the right of which is a bocca di leone, a lion's mouth, for posting anonymous accusations of one's fellow citizens' sinfulness.

The interior

This church is Greek-cross shaped with eight chapels in pairs at the corners
and it gives the impression of greater width than depth. The flat ceiling is decorated with trompe l'oeil architectural perspectives by Domenico Bruni imitating the actual walls - in the middle is St Martin in glory by Jacopo Guarana. Some attractive monochrome wall painting too. In a dark corner next to the pulpit is an altar table with legs in the form of angels by Tullio Lombardo (see right) which came here from the suppressed and demolished church of San Sepolcro which stood on the Riva degli Schiavone.  In the late 1960s the angels were in a poor state, following the 1966 floods, and so were removed and restored by Venice in Peril. The largest chapel is frescoed by Fabio Canal. The tomb of Doge Francesco Erizzo over the side door was evidently conceived to echo the façade of his palazzo, which is visible over the canal through this door. The left-hand chapel near the front has signs pointing to a sacristy, which can best be described as a 'working' sacristy, but has an interesting fresco covering the ceiling with regular stripes of missing paint, looking just like it was painted between the beams which were later removed. But this seems an unlikely explanation.

The scuola
The small building attached to the right of the façade is the former Scuola di San Martino built around 1526-32 by the Guild of Ship Caulkers. It was partly rebuilt in 1584 and restored in 1772. Over the door is a 15th Century bas-relief (see right) of St Martin dividing his cloak with a poor man, an image which appears on biscuits given to children on the saint's feast day.

Campanile 22m (72ft) electromechanical bells
Romanesque and dating from the Sansovino rebuilding (see photo below). Restored in 1902 and 1973.

Opening times
Monday-Saturday 11.00-12.00, 5.00-6.30
Sunday 10.30-12.30

San Martino
Vaporetto
Arsenale

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San Pietro di Castello
Andrea Palladio/Francesco Smeraldi/Mauro Codussi (campanile) 1557-1621
 





















 




 
History
San Pietro sits on the island of Olivolo which was the Easternmost part of the city until the creation of Sant'Elena. A church of 650, one of the 12 established by St Magnus, was dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus, but was replaced and enlarged from 774 to 841 with one dedicated to Saint Peter. It was part of a bishop's residence until 1451 when it became the home of the Venetian patriarch.

Following restoration work in 1120 and 1506-1522, patriarch Vincenzo Diedo commissioned Palladio in 1556 with the church’s rebuilding. Diedo's death meant that Palladio's plans were not implemented (beyond a start made on the façade) until much later in the century, after Palladio's death, and they were then much altered by Francesco Smeraldi who had previously worked with Palladio. The façade (left) is another of Palladio's temples-within-temples, being a three-part façade echoing the interior. It was finished by Girolamo Grapiglia, another close follower of Paladio, in 1621. The church remained the see of the bishop of Venice up to the fall of the Republic in 1807, when this function was transferred to San Marco.

The interior
A Latin cross, with a three-bay nave flanked by aisles each with three altars. The interior was also completed by Girolamo Grapiglia, with the Vendramin Chapel on the left by Longhena, who also designed the somewhat overpopulated high altar of 1649 which was executed by Clemente Moli. This church has a big and light, and very calm and grey, interior worth the trip in itself. The remains of the first patriarch of Venice, San Lorenzo Giustiniani, are preserved in an urn supported by angels above Longhena's flamboyant high altar. In the right-hand aisle is St Peter's Throne, a carved marble throne upon which St Peter supposedly rested whilst in Antioch, containing a Muslim funerary stele and carved verses from the Koran.
The Lando Chapel is a pleasant little space, the only survival from the earlier gothic church, with a mosaic altarpiece based on a Tintoretto cartoon.

Art highlights
Luca Giordano, Pellegrini and Veronese are represented, amongst some middling 18th Century art. The St Peter and Four Saints by Marco Basaiti (a pupil of Giovanni Bellini) has a Bellini-like lustre, though - it opens out into a lovely landscape and is calmly in keeping with the mood of church.
But it seems pasted into a too-large frame (over the third altar on the right) with some mock stone work painted in to fill the gap. I sense a story here.

Lost art
A Paulo Veneziano-like fragment depicting St John the Baptist, now in the Correr Museum, probably originated here.


The cloister
To the right of the church is the former Patriarchal Palace, with a large gateway leading to a lovely 16th Century cloister which was made into a barracks in 1807 and is now social housing and very romantically ramshackle. On a visit in early 2007 I recorded a man just singing his heart out in this cloister to an accompaniment of birdsong. Click here to listen to an mp3 of this fragrant fragment. Or the video is to the left. It's a bit rough, and made with just a compact still camera, but it has a certain something.

The campanile 54m (175ft) manual bells
Detached, standing in the campo in front of the church, one of the few campi in Venice which is still grassed over. Erected in 774, it collapsed in 1120 in a fire, was rebuilt, but destroyed again in a storm in 1442. Rebuilt 1463-64, but damaged by lightening in 1482. Rebuilt 1482-90 by Mauro Codussi, and faced with Istrian stone, it's a chunky and memorable tower (left) and the only stone-clad campanile still standing in Venice. The original dome was blown off in 1659 and replaced with a polygonal drum in 1670. It was described by P. Barbaro in 1482 as 'powerful, isolated, crystal-white. Immobile at its base, yet in movement up there amongst the clouds. It is sculpture, caught between entrapment and flight...ready to flee with the wind.' Restored in 1884, 1902 and 2000, it still leans to the East.

The church in art
The Querini Stampalia gallery has L'ingresso del patriarca a San Pietro di Castello by Gabriel Bella (1779). See it here

The Gemäldegalerie in Berlin has Canaletto's The Vigilia di San Pietro.

Leaning Tower of San Pietro, Venice, an oil painting by Félix Ziem done in the late 19th Century, shows the campanile leaning at a somewhat astonishing angle.


Opening times
Monday to Saturday: 10.00 to 5.00
Sundays: closed
A Chorus Church

Vaporetto Giardini

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San Pietro in 1890

Continued on  page 2


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