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The Church of San Francesco della Vigna

The Church of San Francesco della Vigna

Campo San Francesco della Vigna – Sestiere of Castello 2786 – Venice - ITALY



San Francesco della Vigna's church is located in the homonymous Campo of San Francesco della Vigna in the Sestiere of Castello. In 1554 the building extension was designed and supervised by Jacopo Sansovino, it was finished in 1554. Between 1564-1570, Andrea Palladio completed the church with a majestic façade, realizing one of the most beautiful Renaissance pieces in the city. From Leon Battista Alberti onwards, architects of the Renaissance were committed to the difficult task of adapting the front of a single room building, like an ancient temple, to the multiple aisles plan of Christian churches. The façade of San Francesco della Vigna is Palladio's first practical solution to the problem.The façade of San Francesco della Vigna's church actually consists of two coplanar architectonic orders: the nave is covered by a pediment, and the aisles are covered by half-pediments, Palladio attained an aesthetical correlation linking them with a single high basement. The solution of the portal is unusual, surmounted by insertion of a window inspired by Roman thermae designs. The interior of the church, at first glance, is unadorned: the columns between one chapel and another, the succession of arches, the cornice that runs throughout, all creates a bare, grand architecture. Everything converges on the altar, the architectural and spiritual center of the church. The Latin cross plan of the church exhibits a wide central nave flanked by a series of five side chapels, each of them closed off by a marble balustrade and raised by three steps from the nave level. The church ends with the deep body of the presbytery divided into two parts from the main altar, behind which the friars' choir is located.
On the 26th of June 1253, Marco Ziani, a Venetian aristocrat, in his last will left to the Franciscan friars his vineyard with annexed houses and the little church located in St. Justine's quarter. The church and friary were dedicated to St. Mark until the first half of 1300s; later they adopted St. Francis' name. The gothic church, drawn by de' Barberi in his map of Venice, belongs to that period. The church was demolished in the first half of 1500s, and it was magnificently rebuilt. Many noble families chose to be buried in it and they embellished it with masterpieces of art and added artistic altars. Next to the first small friary, which was a simple cloister close to the church, a new grand friary was built in the 15th century, formed by three large cloisters.The main one has arched columns all around, with one side facing the lagoon. Two smaller cloisters are connected to the front on the church side. In 1810 the Friary was suppressed and became a navy barracks and later, under Austrian government, an artillery barracks. The friary was bought back in 1881. Between 1953 and 1956 a drastic restoration took place: the external loggia was demolished, all the bricked columns were freed on two sides of the large cloister, all the salt-eaten walls were renovated, all the beams darkened by time were cleaned and other minor superstructures were demolished. Since 1989, St. Bernardino Ecumenical Studies Institute, founded in Verona in 1981, has been located in St. Francesco della Vigna Friary.
Bridge between East and West, Venice has always been a crossroads of people, cultures, religions. The dimension of the dialogue between spiritual experiences is in fact a fundamental element in the history of Venice, even if over the centuries it has come to fruition in forms and contents that are very different from the current one. Already in the first half of the last century, when the Catholic Church was still largely closed to the comparison with other faiths, in Venice there were "semiclandestine" meetings between believers of different confessions. After Vatican II, with the official entry of the Catholic Church into the ecumenical movement, initiatives and projects have been developed in Venice to promote the discovery of a vocation for dialogue. This process, common to many other Italian communities, has assumed a peculiar character in the Serenissima. This attention has been strengthened thanks to the work of a series of subjects who interact on various levels. In particular, the collaboration between the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of San Bernardino (which is based in the convent of San Francesco della Vigna) and the University of Ca 'Foscari in the definition of paths for an ever deeper knowledge of Christian traditions is distinguished. with particular attention to the Eastern world, from Orthodox Christians, to Middle Eastern Greek-Catholic communities, to the Islamic universe, to Jewish traditions, to Buddhism and Hinduism.
The relations between the patriarch Giovanni Grimani, the proponent of the restructuring of the church of San Francesco della Vigna, and the papal Curia were not always easy. Descendant of a noble and rich Venetian family, as well as cultured and refined collector, Giovanni Grimani never succeeded, despite repeated attempts and interventions with the pope, to obtain the purple cardinalice, because he was suspected of accepting some theories of the Lutheran Reformation against Catholic orthodoxy. From this accusation he defended himself in person at the Council of Trent in 1563. Acquitted, he transformed the construction of the façade of San Francesco della Vigna on the occasion of a private self-celebration.
Direct visit with local guides

Virtual visit using the video proposed in the media resources

Classroom activity (pre- and post-visit)
Artistic itinerary: detailed information on the works of art preserved in San Francesco della Vigna
Deepening on the theme of "integral ecology": the defense of the environment, the "care of the common home", as written in a document by Pope Francis, is one of the fundamental themes of interreligious dialogue.
Activity of verification of the acquired knowledge and skills.



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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.