One of the first Renaissance buildings in Venice, this pretty pink church is dedicated to San Giobbe (St. Job) who technically was never a Christian at all since he’s an Old Testament character. But Job’s famous trials (and the fact that he was restored to prosperity and good health) made him one of the “plague saints” who was revered during the many epidemics that swept into Venice over the centuries.
The lunette over the door shows St. Francis of Assisi and Job, and was carved by Pietro Lombardo who designed much of the church and, along with his sons and workshop, also decorated several chapels inside including the triumphal arch and a sculptural scene of the Annunciation that surround the high altar.
The church we see today was consecrated in 1493 and replaced a small oratory connected to an old folks’ hospice. The Renaissance expansion included a Franciscan monastery that’s now destroyed although the cloisters are still there, and a campanile that today towers over a basketball court.
At one time, the altars on the right side of this church contained three genuine masterpieces which were stolen by the French after the Venetian Republic fell to Napoleon. The good news is that these paintings are not in the Louvre, they are still in Venice but now in the Accademia:
Christ in the Garden with Saints by Marco Basaiti
Virgin Enthroned with Saints and Musician Angels by Giovanni Bellini
Presentation in the Temple by Vittore Carpaccio
It must have been quite a sight to see these paintings lined up next to each other. I asked the Chorus Pass lady if there was any chance they might be returned to the church and she said there’s no movement afoot to try to get them back – they’ve been gone for two hundred years and that’s just the way it is. But she made me laugh when she looked with disdain at the rather uninspiring paintings that have replaced them.
There’s still some good art in this church, not quite as blockbuster a line-up, but worth seeing. The paintings I like are all in the Sacristy:
Annunciation Triptych by Antonio Vivarini
The Nativity by Girolamo Savoldo
Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine by Andrea Previtali (photo below)
The other thing worth seeing is the Martini Chapel, the second chapel on the left. Paid for by a wealthy silk merchant family from Lucca, this chapel is a rare example of Tuscan art in Venice, and its domed vault is covered with glazed terracotta roundels by the Florentine Della Robbia family that show the Redeemer and angels in the center surrounded by the four evangelists. It’s lovely.
To Visit This Church
A Chorus Pass church, so it’s open Monday - Saturday from 10-5.
Mass Times (today San Giobbe is a parish church) are listed on the Patriarch of Venice website.
A view of the San Giobbe campanile from across the canal: