Cannaregio    Castello    Dorsoduro    San Marco    San Polo    Santa Croce    Giudecca    The Islands
    The List    The Lost Churches


 




The island of Giudecca is not a sestiere, I know, but its separateness and unique character make it deserving of its own page I think. Officially it's part of the sestiere of Dorsoduro and the church of San Giorgio Maggiore is part of the sestiere of San Marco.
 


 

 

  Le Convertite Santa Maria Maddalena
Redentore
San Gerardo Sagredo
San Giorgio Maggiore
Sant’Eufemia
Santa Croce
Santi Cosma e Damiano
Le Zittele
Santa Maria della Presentazione

 

Le Convertite
   1534
 


History
Founded in 1534 as part of a complex that also included an Augustinian convent and a hospice for reformed prostitutes and other sexually 'tainted' women. Restoration work on the church later in the same century was paid for by the merchant Bartolomeo Bontempelli. Originally named for St Mary Magdelene it became known as Le Convertite to reflect its role in converting 'fallen' women.

The institution soon became notorious, however, due to its rector Fra Giovanni Pietro Leon using the 400 nuns as his personal harem. He would 'test' the women when they came to confess by fondling them during confession - if they resisted he would congratulate them on their resisting temptation. And then imprison and punish them until they gave in. He was denounced to the Council of Ten in 1561 and beheaded in Piazza San Marco. It took 13 attempts with the axe, evidently, before his head was removed with a knife. This was seen as evidence that beheading was deemed by God as too light a punishment for a man so wicked. and his remains burned.

Suppressed by the French in 1806, the complex became a hospital before the Austrians made it into a jail in 1857. It is still a women's prison, the entrance is to the right of the façade in the photo.

On Thursday mornings organic fruit and vegetables grown by the inmates in the prison gardens are sold from a stall in front of the church. Be prepared for fighting off sharp-elbowed elderly locals though.

Campanile
Visible on Merian map (see right).

The church on TV
In an episode of a 2010 Jamie Oliver cookery series, Jamie does Venice, he visits the prison, to pick vegetables from their gardens and cook minestrone soup for some surly inmates.

Vaporetto Sant’Eufemia
 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A detail from the Merian map of 1635 showing
the Convertite complex top centre.

Redentore
Andrea Palladio/Antonio Da Ponte 1577-92
 


History

Fiorenza Corner and Teodosia Scripiana built a church and hermitage dedicated to Santa Maria degli Angeli, which was given to Fra Bonaventura degli Emmanueli and his Capuchins in 1541. They were expelled five years later by the heretic Fra Bernadino Occhino, finding refuge in the nearby monastery of Sant'Angelo, and then returning in 1548 when the monastery was destroyed and the heretic expelled.

A new church was commissioned from Palladio by the Republic to commemorate the end of the 1575/6 plague (which killed 50,000 people, Titian among them, but which was not as bad as the one of
1630-31 which took 46,000 people, 30% of Venice’s population, and which resulted in the building of the Salute). The church of the Redentore (Redeemer) was built for ceremony, on the site of the church of San Jacopo. The first stone was laid on May 3rd 1577, with consecration taking place on September 27th 1592.

Palladio's original design was for a central-plan church like the Pantheon, but this was rejected for being too pagan. What was eventually built is more longitudinal and reckoned to be Palladio's finest church. It was completed in 1592 by Da Ponte following Palladio's death in 1580. The high and wide staircase  - this is the only church in Venice raised above ground level - and the huge doorway are designed for processions. And the church is made to be seen from afar - the best view (right) being from the Zattare opposite. The attached monastery later became a barracks.

The Festival of the Redentore, giving thanks for the end of the plague, continues. Every year on the third Sunday in July a bridge on barges is built from the Zattere so that Venetians can make the pilgrimage previously lead by the Doge and the Signoria. The festival is also famous for the fireworks the night before.

The facade
The high and wide (15 step) stairway leads up to a facade which reflects the interior - the central three bays under the large pediment echo the nave, with the wings representing the depth of the side chapels. In the niches either side of the single entrance are statues of St Mark and St Francis. A lead-covered wooden statue of The Redeemer is on top of the dome's lantern. On top of the facade are Faith and two angels, with St Anthony of Padua and St Laurence Giustiniani flanking them lower down. All very Franciscan in choice of subjects.

Interior

An unusually uncluttered interior, mostly because the church was built on a
site belonging to Capuchin monks, a very reformed branch of the Franciscan Order, who agreed to take it on providing their observance of vows of poverty was respected. So, no extravagance, no remunerative funerary masses and monuments, and one elegantly unembellished interior. Monumental, high, pale and airy (due to the many thermal windows) and very Palladian. The wide and aisleless nave has a barrel vault and three connected barrel-vaulted chapels on each side. Over the chancel there's a balustraded dome, and there are two side apses which contain no altars and were built so that the Doge and Signoria could sit unobserved by the common herd. The friar's choir is behind a curved screen of columns behind the high altar.

Art highlights
There's some middling art (the two Tintorettos are 'school of' and the 'school of' Veronese looks very like a Tintoretto) so even a Palma Giovane Deposition stands out a bit. In fact the altarpieces in all six nave chapels (the other two are by Francesco Bassano) have a unifying Tintorretto aspect to them. These chapels tell the life of Christ, in an anti-clockwise direction, from birth to ascension, with a crucifix over the high altar. This crucifix, by Gerolamo Campagna, is flanked by statues of Saint Mark and Saint Francis, symbolising the partnership between the state and the Capuchins. They are by the same sculptor.

The not-often-open sacristy, unmentioned on the Chorus info sheet,  and barely mentioned on the church's own leaflet, is a definite highlight. It is accessed through the last chapel in the nave on the right. A lot of paintings mostly of the Madonna and Child, including one I especially liked by Rocco Marconi, another by Alvise Vivarini, another Palma Giovane, and a Baptism by Veronese. Also lots of reliquaries and twelve creepy 18th Century wax heads of Franciscan saints under glass domes, complete with real hair and Murano-glass eyes.

Lost art
Francesco Bissolo, a pupil of Giovanni Bellini, painted Christ exchanging the crown of thorns for a crown of gold with St. Catherine for the Redentore, it is now un the Accademia.


Campanile 48m (136ft) electromechanical bells
Two minaret-like towers

The church in art
Il Redentore, an oil painting by Duncan Grant, 1948.

The Church of the Redentore
by Canaletto (see left) from the Manchester Art Gallery. The demolished church of San Giacomo della Giudecca is visible to the right.

The Depositing of John Bellini's Three Pictures in the Church of the Redentore, Venice by J.M.W. Turner shows the three Bellini paintings arriving in splendid procession in gondolas. This almost definitely never happened, especially as the paintings in question, which were also mentioned in George Eliot's Journals in 1864 and William Dean Howells' Venetian Life of 1866 (see below) and by Ruskin, have since been reattributed to Bellini-pupil Francesco Bissolo and Alvise Vivarini.

Ruskin said

It contains three interesting John Bellinis, and also, in the sacristy, a most beautiful Paul Veronese.

William Dean Howells said
Giudecca produces a variety of beggar, the most truculent and tenacious in all Venice, and it has a convent of lazy Capuchin friars who are likewise beggars. To them belongs the church of the Redentore, which only the Madonnas of Bellini in the sacristy make worthy to be seen.

Opening times

Monday to Saturday: 10.00 to 5.00
Sundays: closed

A Chorus Church

Vaporetto
Redentore

map






 

The church of San Jacopo which was
demolished to build the Redentore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo above by Albert Hickson.
 

San Gerardo Sagredo
 

 


History

Named after the Venetian-born bishop who sailed from San Giorgio Maggiore to convert the Hungarians in the 10th Century. His duties there included the education of Saint Emeric of Hungary, the son of Saint Stephen of Hungary. He was martyred in Budapest on a hill now named after him. It is said that he was placed on a 2-wheel cart, hauled to the top of the hill and rolled down, but still being alive at the bottom he was beaten to death. Other versions say he was put in a spiked barrel and rolled down the hill. He was canonized in 1083, along with St. Stephen and St. Emeric, and is one of the patron saints of Hungary.  His remains were buried in Santi Maria e Donato on Murano and the urn brought to San Giorgio Maggiore every hundredth anniversary of his departure from that church to spend a night there. This is a brutally (bunkerly?) modern church built amongst the modern flats on the Sacca Fisola.

map

 

Photo by Ryan Kasler
 


 

San Giorgio Maggiore
Andrea Palladio/Simeone Sorella  1565-97
 


this church now has its own page

 

Sant’Eufemia
1371
  


History
Founded in 865 and initially dedicated to four female saints - Euphemia, Dorothy, Tecla and Erasma, but as time passed the first saint's name came to dominate. The church became known colloquially as Famia and was renovated in 952. Reconsecrated in 1371 after rebuilding and renovated in the second half of the 16th Century and again in the mid-18th, when it acquired new altars and the stucco decoration to the interior on the upper walls and ceiling.

The church
The portico along the side (visible in the photo left) is by Michele Sanmicheli and was donated by Giovanni Stucky in 1883. It dates from 1596 and was actually designed as the choir of the church of Santi Biagio e Cataldo, which was demolished to make way for the Stucky mill (now a swanky hotel) nearby. The 14th Century Crucifixion above the main door comes from this demolished church too.

Interior
Retains its Veneto-Byzantine form despite later restorations and decoration, with some columns and capitals dating from the 11th
Century. A surprising interior which has an old shell below, with old columns, that contrasts strongly with the flouncy rococo decoration above - all white, pale green and gilding. This effect is accentuated by the plaster on the lower part of the walls having been mostly chipped away to reveal the rough brickwork.

Art highlights
The paintings around the chancel are uninspiring works by
some followers of Veronese. Ceiling frescoes by Giambattista Canal, a follower of Tiepolo. The art highlight is Saint Roch and the Angel by Bartolomeo Vivarini (originally the central panel of a triptych which also featured Saint Sebastian and Saint Louis) with a lunette above of The Virgin and Child, both restored in 2008. There's also a Morleiter statue of The Pieta, where the body of Christ rests on a rock rather than in the usual maternal lap. This church's factsheet tells us that The Birth of Christ and The Adoration of the Magi by Marieschi are 'no longer in place'.

Campanile 10m (33ft) electromechanical bells
The current tower dates from the mid-18th Century, restored in 1883. A drawing by Canaletto of around 1730 shows it once had a taller one with a sugar-loaf spire. As does a detail from a map of 1635 (right).

Opening times
Mon-Sat: 8.00-12.00 and
3.00-5.00
Sun 3.00-7.00

Vaporetto Sant’Eufemia

map

 

 

 


   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interior photo above by David Orme


 

 

 

 

 




















 

 

Santa Croce
Maestro Pellegrini   1508-15
 


History

The church and convent were founded in the 13th Century. Eufamia Giustiniani, an abbess here, was made a saint in 1465. She was also the niece of Lorenzo Giustiniani, the first patriarch of Venice. While she was abbess only four nuns died in the plague of 1446 and a knight who turned up at the door and asked for water was later identified as having been Saint Sebastian himself, so the well here was renamed after him and the waters were said to have miraculous powers. 

The church was rebuilt 1508-15, with a façade in the Tuscan style by an architect going by the name of Maestro Pellegrini.

The church and convent were suppressed in 1806 with the nuns moving to San Zaccaria and the complex becoming a prison. I have also read that it was later used by an old people's home. Quite recently restored, it is currently being used for storage by the Venetian public records office.

Campanile

Visible on the Merian map of 1635 (see right).


Lost art

S. Antonio da Padova, S. Eliodoro and S. Filippo Neri by Antonio Zanchi now in San Pietro Martire on Murano, supposedly.

Vaporetto Redentore

map

Ceiling photo by
Agnes Exenschläger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santi Cosma e Damiano
Mauro Codussi?  1498
 


History
A convent was established here in 1481 by a Benedictine nun called Marina Celsi, who had been abbess at San Matteo on Murano and of Sant'Eufamia on Mazzorbo. The first stone was laid in 1491, with work completed in 1498. Consecrated in 1583, it is said that Mauro Codussi may have had a hand in the design of the church, he having been working at the time on San Michele in Isola and San Zaccaria, also for Benedictines.

Upon suppression by Napoleon in 1806 the nuns moved to San Zaccaria. The church was stripped and became a warehouse, a barracks, and in 1887 a hospice for cholera victims. Sold in 1897 to the Herion Brothers who converted it into a textile factory (see interior photo below left), which it remained until the 1970s. The church was restored quite recently for use as an enterprise centre offering office space to small businesses, the convent buildings having been long since converted to housing.

A fresco in the dome of the chancel of The Virgin with Female Saints by Girolamo Pellegrini is supposedly still in place.

Lost art
Giambattista Tiepolo's Punishment of the Serpent now in the Accademia - the long thin painting in Room 11 that was left rolled up for 60 years (and boy does it look it!) - was originally displayed under the choir at the back of this church. It was one of a cycle of paintings filling the church in the 17th and 18th Century and eliciting much contemporary praise. Charles de Brosses praised many of the paintings and Coronelli in his 1744 guide said 'Here can be seen very many Paintings all by famous Artists, and these paintings deserve to be seen'. These included four paintings by Zanchi and one by Antonio Molinari, long lost.

Also three by Sebastiano Ricci - Solomon Speaking to the People at the Dedication of the Temple, now in the Duomo in Thiene, Moses striking water from the Rock at Horeb, now in the Cini Foundation, and The Transportation of the Holy Ark, now in the Brera. Thematically the works are all Old Testament concentrations on the threats to the ancient Hebrews, which chimed nicely with contemporary worries about the upsurge of threats to the Venetian state.

Giovanni Buonconsiglio's Saints Benedict, Tecla and Cosma, now in the Accademia is part of an altarpiece partially destroyed, perhaps by fire, here in 1740/41.

The church housed the Tintoretto Madonna and Child with Saints, originally on the first altar on the left, also now to be found in the Accademia, and a Crucifixion by him. Also works by Palma Giovane, Buonconsiglio, Marascalco, and Padovanino.

Campanile

The church still has its spire on the Merian map of 1635 (see right).

Cloisters
Once used by the military, later as a hostel for the homeless. Currently being used as studio space by an art foundation.

The church in art
The church appears in Giudecca, a watercolour by John Singer Sargent. Venice a watercolour view by Clara Montalba in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool features this church's singular campanile. A card bought from the Lo Verso shop on Giudecca in 2015 is, I think, the view of this church and its campanile from in front of Le Convertite (see left).

Bibliography

Nuns and Reform Art in Early Modern Venice by Benjamin Paul

Vaporetto Sant’Eufemia

map




 

 

 

 

 

 

A photo taken whilst the church was in use as a textile factory.
That's the upper part of the chancel and two side chapels in the background.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

A photo from the late 19th Century showing the original
windows, including the lunettes down the side.
 

Le Zitelle
Andrea Palladio/Jacopo Bozzetto 1581-88
  


History
The church of Santa Maria della Presentazione is better known as Le Zitelle, or The Spinsters, since the convent here ran a hospice (founded by a group of Venetian noblewomen in 1559) for 'beautiful girls' from poor families whose beauty was thought to put them in danger of falling into prostitution. A prevention regime, than, as opposed to the nearby Convertite's concentration on helping already-fallen women. Poor young virgins were taken in, some as young as 12, and trained in lace and music making. They were kept protected until they were 18, when they could choose between marriage or the nunnery. If they chose marriage a husband was found and a dowry was provided. The church was designed by Palladio around 1576 for a different site and built by Jacopo Bozzetto from 1581-88.

The church
The Palladian façade is flanked by the wings of the convent. The buildings extend around the back and the cloister is behind the church. The convent is now a luxury hotel.

Interior
A small barrel-vaulted vestibule leads to a square nave. The choir galleries were reached from the flanking convent buildings.

Art highlights
Palma Giovane is represented as is Francesco Bassano, one of the four sons of the better known Jacopo.

The church in art
The Giudecca with the Zitelle by Franceso Guardi, in the National Gallery in London. Another version (see above right) is to be found in the Kunsthaus Zurich.

Opening times
For mass only: Sundays 10.00-12.00

Vaporetto Zitelle

map



Home

Cannaregio :: Castello :: Dorsoduro :: Giudecca :: San Marco :: San Polo :: Santa Croce :: The Islands :: Demolished