Sometimes I like legends better than facts especially when it comes to Venice and its churches. I tend to snooze a bit when I read long architectural descriptions but perk right up when a story comes along especially a magical one.
And as I’ve been reading about these churches, over and over again I’ve seen references to San Magno (St. Magnus) along the lines of “this church was founded by San Magno in the 7th century.” The writers seem to assume that Magno needs no introduction but I had no clue who he was and decided to poke around further.
Well, what a guy! There’s not a lot of info about him since he lived in the 600’s but he does seem to be someone who really existed, unlike some of the other “saints with an asterisk” like George and Christopher who are probably myths.
And San Magno was a Venetian, sorta. Venice as we know it didn’t yet exist as an organized city/state (the first doge wasn’t elected until the early 700’s). In Magno’s time, there were people scattered across the lagoon islands – fishermen and salt farmers – the original Venetians who some mainland bureaucrat described in a letter as “sea-birds” living in wooden huts on stilts. No mosaics, marble, or government yet. But Magno was born in the Veneto somewhere and became a priest and later a bishop, which meant that he was the religious head of a very large area that included mainland territories as well as the lagoon colonies.
But most importantly, San Magno was a visionary. He founded eight churches in Venice and the best part is the way he founded them. These are his churches: