No longer open to the public, this church is worth visiting anyway just because this neighborhood is so nice and also to see the beautiful relief of the Madonna on the outside of the church.
The church is dedicated to San Tommaso Apostolo (the apostle Thomas, famous for doubting). Originally built in the tenth century, the church has been restructured several times since, most recently in 1742. The façade designed by Longhena was added in 1660 and rebuilt a century later when it was on the verge of falling off.
On the right side of the church is the sarcophagus of Giovanni Priuli, a 14th century war hero and senator. Hard to photograph, but his feet are resting on a small dog. On the left side is one of the most beautiful Madonnas in town, a gothic relief of the Madonna della Misericordia. Gorgeous.
After the fall of the Republic, the church amassed an enormous collection of sacred relics (as many as 10,000 including 12 complete corpses, Jan Morris says in The World of Venice). These relics were rescued by a San Toma priest from other suppressed churches. Wonder where are they now?
Only the lower section of the campanile remains; Roman-style bells were added to the stub.
Today the church is a “daughter church” of the Frari which replaced San Toma as the parish church for this part of sestiere San Polo . The owner of Trattoria San Toma told me that once a month or so, he hears people inside singing – he thinks the Frari rents it out occasionally to non-Catholic church groups from the mainland (the singing is NOT Catholic, he said!). It’s never open to the public or for Mass, he told me. Nice gentleman and this is a great place to eat with an outdoor patio (see first photo) and excellent pizza. One of the waiters made me laugh – when I ordered a sgroppino at the end of my meal, he threw his hands out and very dramatically said, “Why not? This is the city of sgroppino!” If you've never had one, give it a try - it's part cocktail, part dessert, and totally delicious.