Cannaregio     Castello     Dorsoduro     San Marco     San Polo     Santa Croce     Giudecca   
 The Islands     The List     The Lost Churches     The Scuole
The Veneto: Padua and Verona              
Emilia-Romagna: Bologna and Ferrara




Gesuiti Santa Maria Assunta
Madonna dell’Orto  San Cristoforo Martire
Santa Maria dei Miracoli
San Bonaventura
I Riformati
San Canzian
San Canciano
San Felice
San Geremia
Santi Geremia e Lucia
San Giobbe
San Giovanni Grisostomo
San Giovanni Crisostomo
San Girolamo
San Leonardo San Lunardo
San Marcuola
Santi Ermagora e Fortunato

page 2
San Marziale
Santa Caterina
Santa Fosca
Santa Maria dei Redentore Chiesa delle Cappuccine
Santa Maria dei Servi
Volto Santo
Santa Maria delle Penitenti
Santa Maria Maddalena
La Maddalena
Santa Maria Valverde
Santa Sofia
Santi Apostoli
Santa Maria de Nazaret

Scuola dell'Angelo Custode (Evangelical Lutheran)


Domenico Rossi, Giovanni Battista Fattoretto, Fra Giuseppe Pozzo 1715-30

The original church of Santa Maria Assunta was built here around 1155, along with an attached monastery and hospital, by the order of the Crociferi (cross-bearers) with the help of the Gussoni family. The ospizio was originally established to house sick pilgrims and wounded crusaders on their way to and from The Holy Land. When this need abated in the 15th century they took in elderly widows.
The original, probably wooden, church was rebuilt after a fire in 1214, and another in 1513. Doge Renier Zen was another prominent sponsor in the 13th century, having a palazzo in the Campo dei Crociferi and crucially presenting the church with the relics of Saint Barbara in 1256.  (A second body of Barbara at the convent of San Giovanni Evangelista on Torcello would later gain official recognition.)  In 1581 the city made a diplomatic gift of a rib from the relics to the Duke of Mantua.
The complex flourished during the reign of Doge Pasquale Cicogna (1585-95) when much work by Palma Giovane was commissioned.
Following the final suppression of the Crociferi in April 1656 for indiscipline, by Pope Alexander VII, after a history of such accusations, the complex was sold by the Republic to the Jesuits in 1657.  The Jesuits had been expelled from Venice in 1606, from their church and school of Santa Maria dell'Umiltà in Dorsoduro. They were allowed back because Venice needed money following the Cretan War. The idea was to obtain it by suppressing Santo Spirito and the Crociferi church here and selling off their goods, but this needed the permission of the pope. Pope Alexander VII agreed, on condition the Jesuits could return to Venice, which they therefore did, but to this peripheral location, not their old site in Dorsoduro.
The Manin family (who have tombs here) later provided money for the crumbling church's reconstruction and this work began after the demolition of the old church in 1715, continuing until 1728. The gap between the Jesuit’s acquisition and the rebuilding was down to the order being temporarily expelled again from Venice, this time due to an argument with the Pope over the right to try clergymen accused of crimes. The Jesuits were never popular in Venice, which might explain this church's remote location, as well as the degree to which the church tries to awe and impress. The work was entrusted to architect Domenico Rossi, who was the Manin family’s favourite architect and Giuseppe Sardi's nephew.
When the Jesuits were suppressed in 1773 the monastery became a school and then in 1808 a barracks for Napoleon's troops. The Jesuits returned in 1844 to occupy the convent buildings to the north. Those to the south have been converted to student housing. To the right (north) of the church is a new venture called combo, a meeting, arts, and coffee complex which allows one to admire a couple of nice cloisters and a painted staircase.

The church
The façade is as crowded as you'd expect from a Baroque church in Venice. It is said to be the work of Giovanni Battista Fattoretto, probably to an original design by Domenico Rossi. On the first level there are statues of the apostles who witnessed the Assumption of the Virgin, by various sculptors. The Virgin Passing into Heaven, with angels with robes billowing in the wind above the pediment, are by Giuseppe Torretti. The Manin coat of arms is on the façade. Ludovico Manin being famously the last doge of all - the one who handed Venice over to Napoleon.

The interior
An aisleless nave with three deep chapels each side connected by doors. The transept arms are the same depth as these chapels and there are two deeper chapels either side of the presbytery. The pilasters between the chapels are undecorated but they are all that isn't.
The walls are covered with a blue almost-rococo wallpaper pattern and the ceiling is all gold and grisaille. Lots of marble too, in all the chapels, with a fair amount of intarsia (marble inlay) made to look like fabric - swags and all. (This carved cloth is said by some to represent the shroud in which Mary was wrapped before her assumption.)  Almost every surface is decorated - there's even marble carved and inlaid to look like carpet in front of the high altar. On the ceiling gold and white stucco work by Abbondio Stazio surrounds frescoes by Francesco Fontabasso and Louis Dorigny (two each). Then there's the altar by Fra Giuseppe Pozzo, inspired by Bernini, with its baldacchino with Solomonic (barley-sugar) columns and concealed lighting. There's also the Da Lezze family funerary monument by Sansovino. Statues of six archangels on the pilasters around the crossing and in the apse are the work of Giuseppe Toretti, who also carved some of the figures on the façade.

Art highlights
Titian’s 1548, great and spooky Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence (see far right) in the first chapel on the left, had been over an altar on the right side of the nave of the previous church on this site, having been commissioned by Lorenzo Massolo and Elisabetta Querini, the latter a famous beauty whose portrait Titian painted three times, all now lost, including one for Pietro Bembo. Ridolfi described the Saint Lawrence as 'totally blackened and incomprehensible' in 1648, a situation that was blamed on the effect of fumes wafting up from decomposing corpses in the tombs in the crypt. It underwent major restoration in 2011. A freer and, some say, better version of this subject was painted later by Titian for Philip II of Spain. It is in the Escorial.
Tintoretto's early and movement-filled Assumption of the Virgin is now in the ornate marble altar dedicated to the Zen family, in the left (shallow) transept. It was painted in c.1560 for the high altar of the original church, commissioned by the Crociferi, again according to Ridolfi, following Tintoretto's assurance that it would be painted 'in the manner of Veronese'. Another version, thought to have been the first version, rejected by the order, is in the Obere Pfarrkirche in Bamberg.
The guild of furriers, Varotari, replaced their altarpiece by Cima (see
Lost art below) with the Decollation of John the Baptist of c.1393-95 by Palma il Giovane. The crowd seems to include many portraits, the identification of whom keep art historians busy.
The panelled sacristy, surviving from the original church, through a door off of the chapel to the left of the presbytery, is covered with twenty-one unusually superior works by Palma il Giovane, (see example, near right) on the walls and across the decorated ceiling, in celebration of the Eucharist, begun in 1588. The ceiling has the Gathering of the Manna in the centre and two more Old Testament typological scenes. The Evangelists are at the sides and the Doctors of the Church in the corners.

Lost art (from the previous Crociferi church)
Two by Cannaregio-resident Jacopo Tintoretto. The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple of c.1554/5, commissioned by the Scoula dei Botteri (barrel-makers) whose emblem appears in the painting on the steps. It was originally placed on the right wall of the presbytery of the old church, where Tintoretto's Assumption (mentioned above) would have been the high altarpiece, and later moved to the sacristy of the Gesuiti. It has been in the Accademia since 1906. And the 1561 Marriage at Cana, painted for the monastery's refectory, now in the sacristy of the Salute, a church which had just been built as the Crociferi order was suppressed, at which time it was nearly surreptitiously sold into the Florentine collection of Leopoldo de’Medici, but the painters’ guild and Senate pleaded to keep it in Venice. It is a painting later much admired by Sir Joshua Reynolds, who owned a copy, John Ruskin, who tried to acquire it for the National Gallery in 1852, and Henry James.
Paolo Veronese's 1557 Adoration of the Shepherds, painted for the altar of the Scuola dei Tessitori di Seta (confraternity of silk weavers), is now in San Zanipolo.

Three by Cima da Conegliano. His damaged altarpiece depicting Saint Lanfranc Enthroned between Saint John the Baptist and Saint Liberius of 1515-16 (see right)  is now in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. It was probably commissioned by the Scuola di Varoteri (furriers) for their altar here by the entrance. Saint Liberius was a saint of the Crociferi order. Amongst their relics the Crociferi possessed Saint Lanfranc's head, which was kept on or in this altar. The picture is a late work, and may have been commissioned in 1514 when the church was redecorated after the fire. It remained, in various positions around the church and monastery, until at least 1746. Cima's A Miracle of Saint Mark, in which Saint Mark heals Anianus, the cobbler who injured himself with an awl while repairing the saint’s shoe, painted for the chapel of the Arte dei Setaioli (silk weavers) here, is in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. And another, earlier, work by Cima for the silk weavers, an Annunciation from 1495, is now in the Hermitage.

The church in art
Campo dei Gesuiti,
1730-35, by Canaletto (see right above), in a private collection in Milan.
The Gioco del Pallone ai Gesuiti of c.1779-92 by Gabriel Bella (see right below) is in the Querini Stampalia.

40m (130 ft) manual bells

Dating from 1150, and the original church, but topped by an 18th century belfry. The lagoon-facing belfry windows were bricked up by Rossi in 1715.

W. D. Howells (in Venetian Life) wrote
The workmanship is marvellously skilful, and the material costly, but it only gives the church….a poverty, a coldness, a harshness indescribably table-clothy. In this dreary sanctuary is one of Titian's great paintings, The Martyrdom of St Lawrence, to which….you turn involuntarily, envious of the Saint toasting so comfortably on his gridiron amid all that frigidity.

Ruskin wrote
The basest Renaissance, but worth a visit in order to examine the imitations of curtains in white marble inlaid with green. It contains a Tintoret, "The Assumption," which I have not examined; and a Titian, "The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence," originally, it seems to me, of little value, and now, having been restored, of none.

Opening times (November 2021)

Monday - Thursday 10.30 - 12.30 & 4.30 - 6.30
Friday 10.30 - 12.30 & 3.0130 - 7.00
Saturday & Sunday 10.00 - 1.00 & 3.00 - 7.00
This church now charges an unobjectionable €1 entrance fee.

Vaporetto Fondamente Nuove


The Lost Venetian Church of Santa Maria Assunta dei Crociferi: form, decoration, and patronage by Allison Sherman, available to download as a pdf file  here.


The plans of the old Crociferi church (the dark outline)
  and the newer Gesuiti overlaid.










The albergo of the Scuola dei Botteri is on the left, and that of the
Scuola dei Varoteri is in the centre with the arch through it.


The Oratorio dei Crociferi

Opposite the church, this was the chapel of the Friar's hospital. Restored in 1554, it was then decorated 30 years later also thanks to Senator Pasquale Cicogna, Doge from 1585-95. So in 1582 a new ceiling was made. Its framework was decorated by Baldassare di Guglielmo and its compartments were painted by Palma Giovane. They depict the Assumption in the centre panel with smaller panels depicting angels. Palma went on to decorate the walls with eight scenes telling the history of the Crociferi order along with episodes from the New Testament and the life of the donor. Palma also painted an altarpiece, no longer in situ. He produced over fifty individual paintings for the Crociferi and this is arguably his equivalent of Tintoretto's San Rocco or Veronese's San Sebastiano. Ridolfi tells the story of Palma at 15 sketching in the church when it was visited by Duke Guidobaldo della Rovere of Urbino, who was so impressed by the boy, and a portrait he sketched of the Duke, that he took him to Urbino and employed him for six years, until 1570.

Opening times: The Oratory now seems to have been acquired by the organisation that runs the Scala Contarini del Bovolo. A sign on the door says that visits are by prior arrangement.
Update 2024 Reports are coming in that the oratorio is open as a Biennale satellite venue.

Madonna dell’Orto
14th-15th Centuries

this church now has its own page

Pietro Lombardo and sons 1481-90

this church now has its own page

San Bonaventura
1620 - 23


The church and its adjacent monastery were built on reclaimed land in 1620 by a Franciscan order called the Reformati, originally from San Francesco del Deserto on the lagoon, with the help of the Zen family. The church was consecrated in 1623. The complex was suppressed in 1810. Following use as a factory the Countess Paolina Giustinian-Recanati bought the complex in 1859 and established a convent for barefoot Carmelite nuns, with the church serving as the convent's chapel. It became a children's hospital in the early 20th century.

Square and small and pale. There are two deepish side chapels, each with marble-surrounded painted altarpieces. A choir and apse with a bench around it. A ceiling panel over the nave (from the 18th century?)  (see right) shows the Virgin and Child giving the scapula to a donor nun and Saint Simon Stock, the nun pointing to an image of church.

Lost Art

Works by Tintoretto and his follower Leandro Bassano, the third son of Jacopo,  were to be found in the church before suppression. The Bassano is the Apparition of the Virgin to Saint Bonaventure which was the high altarpiece here, now in the Accademia, but not on display. Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's Santa Margherita di Cortona, once here, is now in San Michele in Isola.

Opening times
For services




A detail from the Ughi map of 1729
showing the church under its previous name.



San Canzian
Antonio Gaspari 1706


Tradition has it that the first church on this site was built in 864 by refugees from Aquileia, but the earliest printed reference is dated 1041. The church is dedicated to Saints Canziano, Canzio, and Canzionello, two brothers and a sister who were martyred in Aquileia in 304, but Venetian dialect has blended them into one. The church was restored in the early 14th century and reconsecrated in 1351, with much rebuilding thereafter. The current church dates mostly from a rebuilding in the mid-16th century. The façade was built during rebuilding in 1706 by Antonio Gaspari, and paid for by Michele Tommasi whose bust is over the main entrance.

The church is usually entered by either of the two smaller doors opposite each other in the side walls of the bottom of the nave, which thereby form a sort of 'entrance corridor' effect at the very back of the church. These doors also let in a fair amount of the noise of the campo and the market stalls, adding to this church's feel of being open and used. The pale-pink walls balance out some somewhat dark and dingy paintings and the heavily-carved side chapels to make for a quietly quite pleasing interior. The Widmann family chapel to the right of the chancel may be by Longhena.

Art highlights
There are altarpieces by Bartolomeo Letterini, Domenico Zanchi and Nicolò Renieri, amongst other equally lesser-known 18th-century artists.
The high altarpiece shows The Glory of Saints Canzio, Canziano, and Canzianilla, attributed to Paolo Zoppo. It is flanked by The Pool of Bethesda and The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish by Zanchi. There is also a chapel containing the sarcophagus, and a statue by Clemente Molli, of Saint Maximus of Turin.

Campanile 24m (78ft) manual bells

Restored in the 16th century, including replacement of the belfry.

The church in art
John Singer Sargent Leaving Church, Campo San Canciano, Venice 1882 (see below)

Opening times Usually!


Ca d'Oro





San Felice


Founded, it is said, in 966 by the Gallina family and dedicated to Saint Felix of Nola. The first documentary evidence is from 1133. After restoration it was consecrated in 1267. Danger of collapse led to the building of the present church with two façades in 1531, to a design reminiscent of Mauro Codussi's San Giovanni Grisostomo below. Reconsecrated in 1624. Closed by Napoleon and reopened as a parish church in 1810. Amongst the relics here are bones of Saint Felix and a clod of earth stained with Christ's blood.

A radical reworking of the interior in 1810 resulted in the replacement of the 16th-century altars with inferior modern examples, my guide book says, somewhat sniffily, but this church is
 actually an unexpected calm Istrian-stone Greek-cross gem on the inside, if you find it open. The chapel left of the presbytery has bones of Saint Tryphon, displayed on cotton wool in a glass-fronted box,
he being the co-dedicatee of the scuola of San Giorgio degli Schiavoni and revered by the Eastern Orthodox church. There's also a plaque over the sacristy door commemorating Pope Clement XIII, who was baptised here in 29th March 1693 as plain Carlo Rezzonico.

Art highlights
There's an early Tintoretto, San Demetrio and Zuan Pietro Chigi in the corner chapel to the right of the apse, with the named donor large in foreground.
Amongst the early 19th century paintings over the nave side altars is a painting by Lattanzio Querena of Saint Joseph with the Christ Child and Saints, which is unusual for having Joseph in the Mary role with the Child on his lap. The saints are (to the left) Anthony of Padua with, in the background, Lorenzo Giustiniani and Vincent Ferrer. The foreground trio is Saints Peter,  Aloysius Gonzaga, and (the church label tells us) Oswald. The local parish did indeed have confraternity of Saint Oswald the Confessor, and whilst there are two English saints of this name one was a bishop and the other a king, usually portrayed wearing a crown, not armour.
Also five figures carved by Giulio del Moro in the late 16th century.

Lost art
A Giovanni Bellini altarpiece which was commissioned by the Cinturari (guild of belt-makers) for this church is now lost. As is a painting of Saints Paul and Anthony Abbot by Gentile da Fabriano mentioned by Ridolfi in 1648.

22m (72ft) manual bells
Not easily seen.




Opening times

9.00 -12.00 (not Monday) & 4.00 -7.00

Ca d'Oro




San Geremia
Carlo Corbellini 1753-1760


Legend has it that the first church here was one of the eight founded by Saint Magnus in the 7th century, but a church built from 811 by the Malpiero family is less legendary. This latter building was demolished around 1040 and another church was then built, with the benefit of Mauro Tosello and his son Bartolomeo bringing the arm of Saint Bartholomew, which they'd purchased in Apulia, in 1043. The church was dedicated to the prophet Jeremiah, an Old Testament figure, like the dedicatees of several other Venetian churches, like San Giobbe and San Moise, reflecting the influence of the Orthodox church in Venice. Further rebuilding in 1174 under Doge Sebastiano Ziani, as the church had fallen into ruin, and reconsecration on the 1st of June 1292.
Fra Bartolomeo Fonzio Veneziano preached here, before being accused of heresy and drowned at the Lido with a stone around his neck on the 4th of August 1562.
The present Baroque church dates from a complete rebuilding, following demolition of the smaller 12th-century Romanesque church, by the Brescian priest/architect Carlo Corbellini from 1754. The first mass was celebrated on 27th April 1760, while this work continued.
Famous bull hunts took place in Campo San Geremia, reportedly because the Spanish Embassy was nearby, but the many butcher's shops in the square, happy to take the bulls carcasses after the 'sport' may have been a factor. A report from one such event in the late-18th-century tells that that the dog handlers 'incited these frenzied quadrupeds to attack the enormous, defenceless bulls that were infuriated and tied to cables and pawed the ground, goring the air and any unfortunate person'.

The church
Two marble façades of similar design, completed in 1871 with the
façade facing the Cannaregio canal, to replace those damaged by fire following an Austrian bombardment in 1849. They were paid for by Baron Pasquale Revoltella, who had been born in the parish and baptised here. One faces onto the campo (see far right) where the famous bull-hunt was held (possibly due the proximity of the Spanish embassy, hence Lista di Spagna) and is somewhat crowded on the left by the Palazzo Labia. The other one, damaged by a mentally unstable arsonist who set fire to wooden scaffolding in June 1998 and still being restored, faces the Cannaregio Canal (see detail of damage right).

The interior
The church is entered from the campo San Geremia, and you actually thereby enter from the right-hand side. A Greek cross, quite bare with dark altars and minor, mostly 17th and 18th-century, art. There's a dome at the crossing and semi-domes at the end of each arm, the interior can best be described as dirty white walls with buff-coloured detailing.  

Saint Lucy's Relics
A chapel off to the left, built in 1863, contains the 'partially incorrupt' body of the Sicilian Saint Lucy, looted by Enrico Dandolo during the Sack of Constantinople which marked the end of the shameful Fourth Crusade in 1204. It was moved here on the 11th of October 1860, and later placed in a chapel built betwen 1860 and 1863 here to house the reconstructed Palladio-designed Mocenigo chapel from the church of Santa Lucia when that church was demolished to make way for the railway station.
The body has been in its current case since 1930. It was stolen again, from this church, on November 7th 1981 by two gunmen who dislodged the saint's head as they removed the body from its case. The body was found by the police a month later, on December 13th, in a hunting lodge.

Saint Lucy's attribute in paintings is her eyes, usually on a plate, which she plucked out so as to make herself unattractive to a wealthy suitor. Her martyrdom is said to have come when her throat was cut, in 304, during Diocletian's persecutions. Her face is now covered by a relatively recent silver mask - until the 1960s you could still gaze into her empty sockets, but Pope John XXIII, when he was Patriarch of Venice, thought the sight too gruesome and ordered the mask be made. Her woody-looking hands and feet are still horribly visible however. Other remains the church possesses include bones of  Saints Thomas and Bartholomew and a rib of Mary Magdalene. Also Saint Magnus of Oderzo (San Magno), the  7th-century saint who is supposed to have founded eight churches in Venice, is said to have been buried in this church.

Art highlights
Around eight works by Palma Giovane, including a half-length Saint Lucy and a Mary Magdalen, both taken from the church of Santa Lucia; a quite nice Annunciation on organ doors; and The Coronation of Venice by Saint Magnus, with the Virgin, the only painting remaining here from the 12th-century church, described in one guidebook as 'passable'. The remains of Saint Magnus were kept here from 1206, when the church where they had been placed in Eraclea was flooded, until 22nd April 1956 when they were returned to the church of Santa Maria Concetta in Eraclea.
A sign promises a Tintoretto in a museum to the right of Saint Lucy's chapel but this seems now to be largely a gift shop. This work is a Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and the young John the Baptist, or a Sacred Family, and is described as attributed. It looks very rough.

Campanile 43m 140 ft manual bells
One of the oldest left in the city and all that remains of the 12th century church, topped by an octagonal tambour and balustrade that are probably a little later but are visible in Jacopo de' Barbari's map of 1500 (see right) which shows the 12th century church.

The church in art
The Grand Canal at the Entrance to the Cannaregio Canal by Michele Marieschi, painted in 1741-2 shows the old church.








A Canaletto view (now owned by the Queen) painted 1726-27 also shows the old church (see above), whilst an almost identical view by Guardi from 1769 (in the Munich Alte Pinakothek) (see  below) shows the shell of the old church before the rebuilding.

Fire on the Church of San Geremia by Luigi Querena, a night-time view, commemorates the Austrian bombardment of 1849.
There are two watercolours and an oil painting (of 1913) of wide views of Palazzo Labia and San Geremia by John Singer Sargent. Also a closer-cropped watercolour of the join between the palazzo and the church.
The Palazzo Labia by John Piper has the church's façade in the foreground. He also painted the church's Grand Canal-side aspect.

Opening times
Monday to Saturday: 8.30 to 12.00, 4.00 to 6.00
Sundays: 9.30 to 12.15
A NO PHOTO! church
Update April 2023 The façades that face the Grand Canal are covered in scaffolding and sheeting, the largest featuring an enormous advert for perfume.

Vaporetto Guglie



A photo from 1853 showing the canal-facing façade before
the work of 1871. And the towers of the ghetto beyond.

A print from around 1717 showing the old church, and the
bull- hunt in the campo.




San Giobbe
Antonio Gambello/Pietro Lombardo 1450-93


A Franciscan oratory and hospice
dedicated to the Old Testament prophet Job (Giobbe, or Sant'Agiopo in Venetian dialect) was founded here in 1378, funded by Giovanni Contarini, who lived nearby, and completed by his daughter Lucia. In 1428 control passed from the Eremiti di San Girolamo to Observant Franciscans, who added a convent. In 1443 Saint Bernardino of Siena preached here, so impressing future Doge Christoforo Moro that he added the saint to the church's dedication and put up the money to build a new church in the preacher’s honour, with work on the present church beginning in a gothic style in 1450 to designs by Antonio Gambello. It is likely that the new church was at right-angles to the old - the old church is reported to have faced the Cannaregio Canal. Very little of  Gambello's work remains - just the gothic  windows in the right nave wall, the exterior pilasters of the apse, the ante-sacristy (now called the Contarini Chapel), the campanile and the remaining wing of the adjoining cloister. In 1470 Pietro Lombardo was called in to finish the work and this, his first architectural job in Venice, is one of the earliest examples of Renaissance architecture in the city – the main doorway on the façade (see photo right) is an especial treat in a Florentine style. The three statues that stood on the doorcase, by Pietro and Tullio, of Saint Louis of Toulouse, Saint Bernardino of Siena and Saint Anthony of Padua were moved to the chapel of Mula in the sacristy for conservation. The church was consecrated in 1493.
Church and convent were suppressed by Napoleon in 1810, and the convent demolished two years later. The grounds and vineyard were laid out as Venice's Botanical Gardens in 1812. Much damaged by Austrian bombardment, being so close to the mainland, the gardens reopened but closed in 1870.
After more than three years of closure for restoration works the church reopened sporadically in late 2018.

The interior
Pietro Lombardo’s calm interior has chapels on the left side and used to have three major altarpieces (see Lost art below) on the right, and so large and impressive were they (complete with illusionist depth) that they balanced the depth of the real chapels on the left – a neat trick as the right hand side of the nave couldn’t have protruding chapels as it backed onto the existing cloister. The carved stone frames remain, including that for Bellini's painting (possibly carved by Pietro Lombardo himself, or if not by a talented assistant) with its characteristic dolphins, a detail repeated in the painting.
The early renaissance style of the interior, with its decorated cupola, gives the church a bit of  a Brunelleschi feel, which is only enhanced by the polychrome Luca della Robbia roundels in the vault of the very Florentine Martini Chapel, second on the left. They depict God the Father and the Four Evangelists.
The bas relief Annunciation on the arch into the apse is more Lombardo work, as are the bas reliefs in the pendentives of the apse dome, depicting the Four Evangelists, with God the Father in the centre. There's a very deep counter-reformation retrochoir. Doge Christoforo Moro (reputed to have been the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Othello) and his wife Cristina Sanudo are buried in the church, whose building he largely funded. The date of his endowment - 1470 - is inscribed on his floor tomb.

The Contarini Chapel, through a door to the right of the apse, is a remainder of Gambello's original building and contains a pleasing Nativity by Girolamo Savoldo from 1540, said by some to feature the donor painted as the lead shepherd, and by others have been over-restored. Beyond is the sacristy which has its original wood furniture and painted ceiling panels, by Baldassare delle Grottesche, showing Old Testament prophets and saints, and an
Annunciation between Saints Anthony of Padua and the Archangel Michael  by Antonio Vivarini from c.1447. The paintings here are all fairly ordinary, unfortunately.

Lost art
The three altarpieces mentioned above were Giovanni Bellini’s Virgin and Child with Saints Francis, John the Baptist, Job, Dominic, Sebastian and Louis of Toulouse (also known as The San Giobbe Altarpiece) painted between 1476 and 1484 (1476 being the year Antonello da Messina finished his altarpiece in San Cassiano, from which Bellini copied Saint Dominic), Vittore Carpaccio’s Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Purification of the Virgin) of 1510 (very visibly inspired in composition by the Bellini and in its integration with its stone frame) and Marco Basaiti’s Agony in the Garden. The Carpaccio was likely commissioned by Filippo Sanudo, the nephew of the above-mentioned Doge Cristoforo Moro. They must have been a pretty impressive sight, all in the same small church, but now they are the three highlights of the second room in the Accademia, hung on the wall opposite the bench and staircase in the same order that they appeared in the church (Carpaccio, Basaiti, Bellini). They were looted by Napoleon and returned to the Accademia in 1815. Their aching lack in San Giobbe only adds to the slightly forlorn feel of this church in this somewhat backwaterish part of Venice. The Bellini in particular loses out from being separated from its original frame, carved by Pietro Lombardo. See right for a photographic reconstruction of the Bellini altarpiece, a very early example of one painted to match its architectural frame. Job stands haloed and unclothed to the Virgin's immediate right,
A Transfiguration of Christ by Giovanni Bellini, now in the Correr Museum, may have come from here or San Salvatore, as both churches are recorded as having had a Bellini depicting this scene.

Campanile 46m (150ft) electromechanical bells
Erected between 1451 and 1464, with restoration work in 1903, 1905 and 1982. The bells have a somewhat flat sound which can best be described as doinky.

Ruskin wrote
Its principal entrance is a very fine example of early renaissance sculpture. Note in it, especially, its beautiful use of the flower of the convolvulus. There are said to be still more beautiful examples of the same period, in the interior. The cloister, though much defaced, is of the Gothic period, and worth a glance.

And he says that the Virgin and Child by Bellini is Alone worth a modern exhibition building, hired fiddlers and all. The third best Bellini in Venice, and probably the world.

Opening times
Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday: 10.30 - 1.00
According to the pc-printed Chorus sign on the door. But, as ever, people are finding it closed when it should be open.

A Chorus Church

Ponte dei Tre Archi




San Giovanni Grisostomo
Mauro Codussi 1497-1504

This church is one of the very few in Western Europe dedicated to the 4th-century patriarch of Constantinople, a Greek contemporary of Saints Ambrose and Augustine, reflecting the strength of the Byzantine influence in Venice when the first church on the site was built in 1080.
John Chrysostom is one of the four Eastern Orthodox Fathers of the Church - chrysostom means golden-tongued. See below for one of his homilies. During his lifetime he had sought to preserve the unity of the Eastern and Western churches, and after the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204 he was made the patron saint of the Latin Patriarchate in Constantinople and most of his relics were removed to Rome. His homilies against Jews and homosexuality have made him a controversial figure, especially following his adoption by the Nazis. Thomas Aquinas is reported to have said that he would rather have a book by John Chrysostom than the city of Paris.
The original church was demolished in 1495 after a fire.
Work began on a replacement in 1497 to designs by Mauro Codussi. It was his last church in Venice and its façade is almost identical to his one for San Michele in Isola, which was his first, although more modest funding means that the façade here is mostly brick, with the stone detailing confined to the doorways. It shares the Greek cross plan of his Santa Maria Formosa, but is much more vertical due to the narrow site. Codussi died in 1504, but work here was completed by his son Domenico, with consecration in 1525.
The façade was damaged during an air-raid in February 1918, and there'd also been a near miss on 13th September 1916 (see photo far below right).

The interior

The interior is compact, cosy and welcoming, but usually noisy from the crowd flow outside. A Greek cross plan ringed by apses, the pleasing proportions derive from Platonic ideals of perfect geometric form and balance. Codussi's original barrel vault over the choir was unfortunately replaced with a flat roof to help the lighting, but this remains one of those churches where darkness and unrestored paintings conspire to keep you squinting and a little frustrated. And talking of lighting - the light fittings bear an unfortunate but strong resemblance to condoms.

Art highlights
The altarpiece on the right as you enter is Giovanni Bellini's Saints Jerome, Christopher and Louis of Toulouse (see below right) hanging in the funerary chapel of merchant Giorgio Diletti who died in 1503. Signed and dated 1513, it's completion having been delayed by the rebuilding of the church, it was Bellini's last great innovative altarpiece. It's not as immediately striking as some of the mature-period gems in other churches in Venice, but it's characteristically serene and an odd space: just because Saint Jerome is outside in the wilderness, reading with his book propped on a handy fig tree, it doesn't mean that the other two saints have to suffer the elements too. Saint Louis is the saint for whom the church of 
Sant'Alvise was built. Some scholars have claimed that the bearded reading figure is Saint John Chrysostom and that the youthful bishop is Saint Augustine, but Dilletti's will stipulated the three saints to whom he desired his chapel be dedicated. The fact that he insited on three saints may be why this altarpiece lacks a Virgin, because a symmetrical composition with the Virgin, of course, in the centre would have been impossible. The gap in the composition at low centre encouraged someone in the church to fix a statue of Saint Anne to the centre of the painting in 1733 but was made to remove it by the Scuola di San Marco, the confraternity of which Diletti was a member and had made patrons in his will and which gave  the commission to Bellini. The picture, which was restored in 1976, is worn in places but the colours and light are still special. It contains an inscription, derived from Psalm 13, which is in Greek, reflecting Venice eastward-looking orientation. As does the Byzantine arch.
Arguably influenced by the Bellini is the 1510/11 high altarpiece sacra conversazione here by Sebastiano del Piombo, of Saint John Chrysostom with Saints John the Evangelist, Catherine, Mary Magdalene, Lucy, John the Baptist, and an armoured saint (who might be George, Liberale or Theodore) the latter looking like a portrait. Henry James thought that the Magdalene looked like a 'dangerous but most valuable acquaintance' (see detail right). (She bares more than a slight resemblance to Sebastiano's Portrait of a Woman as a Wise Virgin in Washington, I think.) This is his only altarpiece remaining in Venice, and had been thought to be by Giorgione, thanks to Vasari's mistake in his first edition, corrected in the second. This Sebastiano/Giorgione confusion has continued into our own century with regard to many paintings, with added Titian attributions. It's one of those altarpieces that's better appreciated in photographs, though, because in situ it's not that easy to see.
The Tullio Lombardo relief of The Coronation of the Virgin you can get close enough to, though, and it's very fine.

Lost art
Sansovino says that Sebastiano del Piombo painted the cupola here, but this work has never been found, despite a recent restoration of the church removing fourteen layers of plaster hoping to find it.

Saintly behaviour?
The penance of Saint John Chrysostom became a popular theme in German art in the late 15th century, around the time this church was being rebuilt. There are prints by Dürer and Cranach, but the legend was later mocked by Luther. The story tells of how the young John took to the wilderness to become a hermit. An emperor's daughter, gathering flowers nearby, was swept by a wind to the mouth of John's cave where she asks for shelter. He takes her in, dividing the cave into two parts, but succumbs to carnal desire and has sex with her. He is then so racked with shame that he throws her over a cliff. Consumed with regret he wanders the wilderness like a beast, naked on all fours and eating roots and grass. Fifteen years later he discovers that the emperor's daughter is still alive and living in the wilderness, having borne his child, who miraculously declares his sins forgiven.

Saint John Chrysostom said
It is foolishness and a public madness to fill the cupboards with clothing and allow men who are created in God’s image and likeness to stand naked and trembling with cold, so that they can hardly hold themselves upright. Yes, you say, he is cheating and he is only pretending to be weak and trembling. What! Do you not fear that lightning from Heaven will fall on you for this word? Indeed, forgive me, but I almost burst from anger. Only see, you are large and fat, you hold drinking parties until late at night, and sleep in a warm, soft bed. And do you not think of how you must give an account of your misuse of the gifts of God?
21st homily on 1 Corinthians

Ruskin said
One of the most important in Venice. It is early Renaissance, containing some good sculpture, but chiefly notable as containing a noble Sebastian del Piombo, and a John Bellini, which a few years hence, unless it be "restored," will be esteemed one of the most precious pictures in Italy, and among the most perfect in the world. John Bellini is the only artist who appears to me to have united, in equal and magnificent measures, justness of drawing, nobleness of colouring, and perfect manliness of treatment, with the purest religious feeling. He did, as far as it is possible to do it, instinctively and unaffectedly, what the Caracci only pretended to do. Titian colours better, but has not his piety. Leonardo draws better, but has not his colour. Angelico is more heavenly, but has not his manliness, far less his powers or art.

Henry James said
There is another noble John Bellini, one of the very few in which there is no Virgin, at San Giovanni Crisostomo - a St. Jerome, in a red dress, sitting aloft upon the rocks and with a landscape of extraordinary purity behind him. The absence of the peculiarly erect Madonna makes it an interesting surprise among the works of the painter and gives it a somewhat less strenuous air. But it has brilliant beauty and the St. Jerome is a delightful old personage.

The church in fiction
In A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva chapter 2 introduces our hero, Israeli secret-service agent Gabriel Allon, working at his day job - restoring the Bellini altarpiece in this church, and living in the Ghetto. The topographic and art-historical detail is spot on, but the action soon moves to Vienna.

Campanile 21m (68ft) manual bells

The original detached campanile, dating from 1080, was demolished in 1532 when the calle was broadened, but can be seen in Carpaccio's The Miracle of the Holy Cross at the Rialto Bridge in the Accademia. The current one was built 1552-1590 and is nicely decorated around the base.

Opening times
Monday-Saturday 10.00-6.30
Sunday 11.30-6.30
A NO PHOTO! church.

Vaporetto Rialto





San Girolamo
Domenico Rossi, 18th century


A convent with a small oratory was founded here in 1375 by two Augustinian nuns, Bernarda Dotto and Girolama Lero, originally from Santa Maria degli Angeli on Murano. They had fled from Treviso, escaping the invading Hungarians lead by King Lajos. Later
that century the convent was enlarged and a church built. This work was completed in 1425 but in 1456 these buildings were damaged by fire, which resulted in more rebuilding and further enlargement.
The present church dates from the rebuilding by Domenico Rossi in the early 18th-century (following destruction in yet another fire in 1705) with interior decoration by Francesco Zugno. The new church was reconsecrated on the 15th of June 1751.
Both church and convent were suppressed by the French in 1807. From 1840-1855 the church was used as the steam mill of a sugar refinery installed in the convent and a chimney was installed in the campanile (see right). It's also said to have once been used as a brick factory.
The church was restored and reopened in 1952, (see black & white pre-restoration photos far below which show evidence of much adjustment to doors and windows).

Tall, bare, white-walled and aisleless with much rising-damp crumble at base of walls. Four confessionals towards the back.

Some small painted panels including a quite nice Saint Jerome in his Study by Palma il Giovane (see right) of c.1590, originally painted for the albergo of the Scuola San Fantin but here since 1958. Also on the right side of the nave is an action-packed Ascension. A long panel on the left wall of the choir, with a smaller Last Supper on the right wall. Some dingier ones on the left side of the nave.

Lost art
The Holy Father Blessing by Pier Maria Pennacchi (previously thought to be by Alvise Vivarini) came from the ceiling of the oratory of the Scuola di San Girolamo (now demolished), which was behind the church.  The panel was still in situ in 1843, but was removed shortly afterwards and passed into private hands. Bought by the Accademia in 1899 for 1,000 lire. It has been installed in the centre of the carved wooden ceiling of gilded cherubim in Room 1 there. The Scuola also had two scenes from the legend of Saint Jerome by Giovanni Bellini which are now lost.

Was demolished when it became unsafe, but still visible in the photo taken at the end of the 19th century (see below).

The church in art
The Tate Gallery has a sketchbook with a drawing of the campanile by Turner.
Rio St. Geronimo by Franz Richard Unterberger (detail right) shows the church in the 19th century with its campanile, but without the wall now enclosing the campo in front of the façade.

Opening times
Only open for services.
(Tues 5.00, Thurs 5.00, Sun 11.30)
I got lucky on a Sunday morning as the priest was preparing (see photo right).

Vaporetto Ponte dei Tre Archi





San Leonardo
Bernardo Maccaruzzi  1794


Built in 1025, with the help of the Crituazio family, but first documented in 1089. Restoration in the early 14th century resulted in reconsecration in 1343. In 1260 the Scuola di Santa Maria della Carità, the first Scuola Grande, was founded here. It later moved to the complex of Santa Maria della Carità which is now part the Accademia Galleries. The current church here dates from a rebuilding of 1794 by Bernardino Maccaruzzi, a pupil of Giorgio Massari, brought about by the parlous state of the old church. It was suppressed by the French in 1807, having since been used as a coal warehouse and for band practice. It has been a community centre too and now, still owned by the Comune di Venezia, sometimes houses exhibitions, meetings and COVID vaccinations.

An aisleless nave, almost nothing remains of the internal features of the church, just sparse moldings, capitals and a couple of door cases.

Lost art
Zanetti in 1773 reports a Resurrection of Christ by Aliense (Antonio Vassilacchi) over the main altar on the left. Also a San Carlo by Domenico Tintoretto, and a Saint Anthony by Lazarini. An Agony in the Garden and Christ Carrying the Cross by Bonifazio de 'Pitati flanked the high altar,

Detached, it fell down on the 24th August 1595, damaging 12 houses and part of the church and killing 10 people, but still visible on the Merian map of 1635 (see below) which also shows the old church.

Opening times
For exhibitions and  meetings.
Update April 2023
Closed, after being used for a while as a COVID vaccination centre, see photo right.

San Marcuola





San Marcuola
Antonio Gaspari and Giorgio Massari  1663-1736

Legend has a church here since 569, dedicated to Saints Ermagora and Fortunato, the two protomartyrs from Aquileia, who were disciples of Saint Mark. This naming became, by the mysterious workings of the Venetian dialect, San Marcuola. The first documented mention is from 1069. The church was famous for housing the right hand of John the Baptist - the one with which he'd baptised Christ. Rebuilt after a fire, which was caused by an earthquake, and reconsecrated in 1343. Barbari's map of 1500 shows the church
perpendicular to the Grand Canal with the apse to the north (see right). This church also had a hermit's cell over the door in which three (and later six) women were walled up. They moved to the church of the Eremite when San Marcuola became unstable and needed to be rebuilt. This work began in 1663 first with the chancel, and then the rest of the church, orientated parallel to the Grand Canal this time, with the apse to the east. The architect was Giorgio Gaspari, who died in 1730, after which the work was completed by Giorgio Massari. Funding in 1727 had been raised by the Council of Ten authorising a lottery.
Giustiniana Wynne was baptised here. She being the Venetian-born daughter of an English duke and a writer, famous for her friendships with Casanova and (more scandalously) the patrician Andrea Memmo. Her life and affair with the latter being the subject of Andrea Di Robilant's book A Venetian Affair.
The 18th-century German composer Johann Adolph Hasse is buried here. He spent the last 10 years of his life in Venice, during which time he composed sacred music and served as chorus master at the Ospedale degli Incurabili. Hasse was a friend and colleague of Silvius Leopold Weiss, the last great composer for the lute, and a composer for the lute himself. F. S. Kandler revived the composer's name with a biography in 1820 and paid for Hasse's gravestone here.

The church
The façade was to look very like that of Massari's church of La Pieta, but it remains unfinished above the plinth, with the ledges and holes that were to support the marble cladding now usually full of pigeons.

Interior and art highlights

Rectangular with pairs of altars at each corner, the altars having statues rather than paintings, by Gian Maria Morleiter and his workshop. He is also responsible for the statues of the church's saints flanking the tabernacle on the high altar. There's a ceiling painting of them too, by Franceso Migliori who has other works here. The painting on the ceiling of the apse is upside down, meaning you have to be standing with your back to the altar to see it the right way up, which is odd.
There's a Tintoretto Last Supper from 1547 on the left wall of the apse, the first of his many of this subject - the date is on the stool in the centre - and so still quite Titian-looking. It was commissioned by the Scuola del Santissimo Sacramento to hang over their banco (an ornamented bench and desk, and meeting venue) in the old church.

Lost art (and arguments)
Jacopo Tintoretto's Washing of the Feet of 1548/9 (see below) was made for the right wall of the apse, being part of a flanking pair with the Last Supper still here and mentioned above, although it is much larger. It is now in the Prado. The painting had been removed from San Marcuola by the mid-17th century according to Carlo Ridolfi, who painted the copy which remains here. There is scholarly disagreement over whether the Prado version, or another very similar one in the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead, is the one from San Marcuola.
Another Tintoretto, the very Veronese-like Adoration of the Cross, now in the Brera, was commissioned in honour of Saint Helena in 1584 by the Scuola dei Tessitori (cloth weavers) for a chapel here. But that theory is sometimes questioned as the painting looks too early for the documented date of the commission.

The church in art
Giovanni Pividor's San Marcuola Con la Neve, a print in the Correr Museum (see right).

Local legends
A parish priest is said to have been dragged from his bed and given a good kicking by the corpses buried here after declaring in a sermon that he didn't believe in ghosts, and that 'Where the dead are, there they stay'.

Rebuilt in 1728, the remaining lower portion is now a house, to the right of the façade.

Opening times
Monday to Saturday 9.30 - 11.30
A NO PHOTO! church

Vaporetto San Marcuola





Continued on 
Cannaregio page 2


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

Padua :: Verona :: Bologna