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Santa Fosca

Santa Fosca

This is the smaller of the two churches that remain on Torcello and was built in the 11th century to house the body of the third-century virgin martyr saint, whose body and that of her nurse and fellow martyr, Santa Maura, were brought to Torcello in the 10th century. Santa Fosca was a local girl of sorts, from Ravenna, who was enormously popular in the Middle Ages (there’s also a church dedicated to her in Venice in Cannaregio).

This is a perfectly harmonious little Byzantine church built on a Greek Cross plan with a wooden ceiling and very little decoration inside. There’s something very magical about the simplicity of the interior of this one. The porch connecting Santa Fosca with the cathedral was added in the 16th century.



Decorative brickwork on the apse~


When I visited Torcello last December, there was a wedding going on in Santa Fosca and I wasn’t able to go inside. I was bummed because I wanted to see it again, but I did get to see an Italian bride (which brings good luck!). And I enjoyed watching the wedding party and guests depart from the church. The most interesting thing was that there were at least five people who had brought their little lap dogs to the wedding! I told Barbara at the Locanda about it, and she said that’s common in Italy and that there were several dogs (including her own) at her own wedding. More proof that Italians are more civilized than Americans. :)

This shows the cathedral (Santa Maria Assunta) on the left and Santa Fosca on the right with the wedding party departing the church. You can (barely) see a couple of the little dogs on the left.


A relief on the exterior showing Santa Fosca Adored by Brethren:


I'm intrigued by the monk on the far right. Is he swooning? All the others have the same face, but he's unique. And I like the lions' heads underneath too.


A view of the roof of the church taken from the Torcello campanile (taken with a film camera (remember those?!) and scanned in)



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Comments (12)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, wonderful post. I enjoyed learning about Santa Fosca and looking at all of your beautiful photos. Your observations are so interesting and detailed. The little monk at the end is something that I would miss noticing. Very interesting. You must have very good luck as I remember you finding yourself in a church during another wedding before. I think it is so cool how Italians bring their lap dogs to formal functions too.

Thank you for so much for continuing to share more about your experiences in Torcello. Have a great evening!

What a lovely ... really neat little church... very intimate and I love all the details... the Corinthian columns arching... all the interesting texture and the roof ... great. I also like the monk turned out away from the others... brings us into the relief in a unique way... his foot is interesting too. Carol

This is a great post - educational and artistic. Love the textures of the churches, roofs, etc. The folklore of luck in seeing an Italian bride is hysterical - especially being of Italian heritage! Weddings in Italy are special events - seemed to be shared by the entire town. Thanks for sharing your post and photos.

Thanks for your comments everyone.

Kathy, I think I've seen an Italian bride on almost every trip to Italy and really, the good luck is getting to travel there! I'm not sure I got the good luck from that time when I (accidentally) crashed that wedding though. :)

Carol, it's a wonderful church and I wish I had some photos of the inside too. You are right about his foot - it looks like he is getting ready to stand up!

Menuhune, on my very first trip to Italy, our Italian tour guide told us that seeing an Italian bride was good luck (after we saw one leaving a church in Florence). But I don't know if it's only good luck for tourists or for Italians too!


What a beautiful church, Annie, the brickwork is fascinating.

I love that relief -- maybe the monk is looking away because he feels unworthy? His face is more detailed than the others; perhaps the artist put himself (or a patron) in?

I love the idea of bringing dogs into church on special occasions, like weddings. I wonder if it's good luck for the dogs as well, to see an Italian bride?

Sandra, that's an interesting question! Some might think that the dogs have good luck already, since they belong to doting Italian owners who dress them up and take them on a vaporetto ride out to Torcello!

I like your theory about the wayward monk being a self-portrait of the artist. I just looked this relief up in Lorenzetti - no artist's name but he dates it to 1407.


A lovely post, Annie!

And, as usual, the pictures are beautiful!

What a beautiful church! And how lucky for you to have seen an Italian bride!

I agree with Italians being more civilized:)

This looks like such a cool church. I love the architecture and all of your photos. I sometimes think the outside of some of these churches are even more interesting than the insides (even though the art work is always amazing inside). I really need to make sure to get to Torcello the next time I am in Venice. What was I thinking not visiting this interesting island during one of my past visits?

Nancy, thank you!

Candi, I was kinda joking about the civilized thing but really, I do think it's true. And America's phobia about pets in public places drives me crazy!

Girasoli, I agree with you; there are many churches that are just as (if not more) interesting on the outside. And vice versa - some churches look so bare and plain outside but then are gorgeous inside.

For whatever reason, many guidebooks make it sound like Murano and Burano are more interesting than Torcello, so some people skip it. It's my favorite of the three islands.


What a beautiful church. I love the shape and simplicity of the building.

Fascinating about the little dogs at the wedding. Very cool post!

What a lovely church with such beautiful facade.

I just recently started hearing abut dogs being brought to Italian weddings. I've been to a few wedding in Palermo and no one there brought their pooches to the ceremony or reception. Maybe it is common north of Rome?

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 27, 2009 12:09 PM.

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