There are seven churches and two oratories on Giudecca but only a couple that are open on a regular basis...this one, and the much larger and more famous church of the Redentore. If you're going to visit the Redentore, I encourage you to walk up the fondamenta and visit Sant' Eufemia too. I actually like it better...it's not as magnificent as the Palladio church, but there's just something very special about these small parish churches. This is a sweet one.
I spent most of a day in November walking around Giudecca and had a fabulous time. It's mostly residential (and there are LOTS of shrines!) with many charming corners and views. Giudecca is part of the sestiere of Dorsoduro but you have to take the vaporetto from the Zattere to get there.
This church was founded in 865 and dedicated to four female saints (Eufemia, Dorotea, Tecla, and Erasma) - virgin martyrs from Aquilea who worshipped with San Marco when he visited there. The church faces west, common with early churches, and even though it’s been renovated, restored and remodeled a number of times over the centuries, it still has the design of a Veneto-Byzantine basilica. Older decorations such as the 11th century columns are a nice contrast to the more “modern” stucco and frescoes added in the 18th century. A harmonious and lovely space. It reminds me of San Nicolo dei Mendicoli (though San Nicolo is hard to beat when it comes to magical small churches).
This church has a wonderful painting, San Rocco and the Angel, painted in 1480 by Bartolomeo Vivarini. The Vivarini were a family of early Renaissance artists who were from Murano and descended from glass blowers. Antonio and Bartolomeo were brothers, their brother-in-law Giovanni d'Alemagna was part of their workshop, and Antonio’s son Alvise became an artist too. They aren’t as well-known or regarded as the Bellini family but I always enjoy seeing their work.
The façade faces a canal and when I arrived in the morning, the floor was covered with an inch or two of water (acqua alta) and I couldn’t go in. I came back a couple of hours later, and the water had receded and I was able to visit. Even though the acqua alta was mild compared to my December 2008 trip, it did happen several times, and I visited two churches that had water inside (the other was San Giacomo dall’ Orio and I had to wait until later to visit that one too).
The portico to the side of the church was built using materials from the nearby church of Santi Biagio e Cataldo, now demolished. The Gothic statue of St. Blaise in the niche came from that church. Alongside the statue are two signs, the grey one on the left is the current standard for Venice churches while the yellow metal one is older and not seen that often any more.
Renaissance relief over the door...the Madonna and child with San Rocco and Sant' Eufemia.
There's a garden behind the church, with a locked gate, and there were at least two shrines in there that I couldn't get close to!
The boat parked in front of the church belongs to Harry's Dolci, another place still on my Venice wish-list.
Opening Hours for Sant' Eufemia:
8-12 and 3-5 Monday through Saturday