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Sant' Agnese

Sant Agnese

This Dorsoduro church has existed since at least the 11th century and has only recently reopened for public Mass. As far as I know, that’s the only way to visit it right now, and I'd really like to see the inside of this one because even though the church has been renovated and restored over the centuries, part of the original Veneto-Byzantine interior remains, as described by James McGregor in Venice From the Ground Up:

“Though it was remodeled in the Middle Ages, the original walls of the nave were never destroyed or covered over. Above the roofs of the side aisles, their wonderful pre-Gothic brickwork – a repeating pattern of steep, cusped arcades in the shape of a cursive “M” – is still visible.”

I’m always amazed by the beautiful things the early Venetians could do with mere brick and I really want to see those arcades.

Sant Agnese

St. Agnes was a virgin martyr who is a saint for both the Catholic and the Orthodox faiths and in the Middle Ages, the feast of St. Agnes was a major holiday lasting for two weeks. There was once a small convent attached to this church, and it was traditional for the nuns to adopt six orphan girls and raise them to adulthood, which fits since St. Agnes is the patron saint of young girls and (today) of the Girl Scouts.

In 1810, the church was suppressed and closed by the French who stripped it of its art. One of its major works was Michele Giambono’s Coronation of the Virgin which is now in the Accademia.

The church was used as a lumber and coal warehouse for a while and then taken over as an oratory by a private school in 1854. It closed again in 1866 when an artesian well exploded, damaging the church and causing the ground around it to subside. More restoration work and it eventually reopened as an oratory.

There’s now a Roman-style bell tower on the site of the original free-standing campanile which was demolished in 1837. The church used to face a canal that connected the Grand Canal to the Guidecca canal but in 1863, it was filled in. The little campo next to the church is quite lovely with some trees and park benches.

Mass on Sundays at 8:30 AM (Note: in November 2010, there was a sign on the door that said "mass suspended." I don't know if it was suspended for winter or because of the construction going on in the campo. Or perhaps it's suspended forever? Dunno).

The shrine on the bright orange wall to the left of this church. Love those roses.


More Churches:

Churches in Cannaregio
Churches in Castello
Churches in Dorsoduro
Churches in San Marco
Churches in San Polo
Churches in Santa Croce
Churches on the Lagoon Islands

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Comments (11)


Annie, this one is very near "our" first apartment. Thanks for the research on it--will try to attend mass the next time we go.

I am distressed, though, by the large construction shed, aka eyesore, that takes up virtually the entire campo. Was not that way in the "good old days."


I still love those bells even if they are a more recent addition!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Annie, I really enjoyed this entry and your photos. Interesting what you said about St. Agnes.

Great pictures of the bells and the shrine! I never asked. Do you go to the masses in the churches also?

Girasoli, yes I do go to Mass and I think I'll blog about it. Thanks for the idea!

Thanks Kathy - hope you had fun in Vegas!

Anne, me too. I like the contrast between the older bricks and the "newer" orange stone at the top too.

Cubbies, I must have missed the "shed" (or maybe I just wasn't paying attention). Did you see it this past December?


Yes, I THINK it was there--has been the last couple of years. That blue & white color at the right edge of your photo might be on the side of it? Or maybe that's just a sign...


Totally unrelated, but I had to stop by and tell you I don't mind sending books to Canada. So consider yourself entered in the Keeper and Kid contest. :-)

I love the picture of the shrine! It looks wonderful with the orange background.

Thanks Maria!

Cubbies, I see what you are talking about but still have no memory. Need to check some of my other photos and see if I got another shot of it.

Jill, thanks but I think your message is meant for Anne in Nova Scotia (andasamo) not me - honest mistake!

Great post! Very interesting, and I hope you get to see the inside of the church in the near future!

The services seems be suspended forever (20010, 2011).

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 24, 2008 12:32 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Paolo Veneziano in the Frari.

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