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The original patron saint

San Teodoro (St. Theodore) was the original patron saint of Venice and even though he was replaced by San Marco (a much more prestigious saint), there are still images of him around Venice both outside on the streets and in paintings inside churches. The most famous is the sculpture that shows him standing on a crocodile/dragon on top of the huge column in the Molo. That's him on the right.

acqua alta

San Teodoro was a dragon-fighting saint. There are so many images of San Giorgio fighting the dragon all over Venice and I wonder, how do you tell the difference between George and Theodore? And don’t forget San Donato, another dragon fighter, as well as Archangel Michael who can be seen fighting a dragon on a mosaic inside San Marco. I wonder if some of the images identified as San Giorgio might be Teodoro instead.

Here are a couple that ARE supposed to be San Teodoro. The first is on the side of the Scuola di San Teodoro, the second is on the façade of the church of San Toma.

San Teodoro and the dragon

San Teodoro and the dragon

Below is a view of Campo San Salvador by Canaletto. The church is on the left and the scuola to the right. This painting can be seen in an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. This show runs from February 20–May 30, 2011; I'd love to see it but am not sure I'll be able to get there.


San Teodoro's relics are in the church of San Salvador to the right of the high altar. In 2008, I could see his body in a glass coffin, and he was wearing a very vivid silver mask. I'd never seen anything quite like it. But when I visited in November, they had blocked the view with a gold panel. Perhaps they only open it up on special occasions? There's a photo of the saint and the mask on this website, Il Tesoro di San Salvador.

A vintage photo showing the columns~


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Comments (15)


Poor San Teodoro, upstaged like that by San Marco! And then, to have his remains put on display...although the photos are kind of cool, in a scary way. I once saw Lenin's body in Red Square in Moscow. That was very creepy -- the silver mask would have been helpful there!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, I really love learning about all the saints in Venice. And it's very cool seeing the old vintage photos and comparing them to what that part of Venice looks like now. It's pretty amazing how different and also the same they look. That was an interesting link and look at San Teodore's relics with the Silver mask. That last vintage shot compared to your first photo is really interesting. Seeing the Venetians and how they dressed back then makes me really wonder what it was like living in Venice way back when.

Thanks so much for this interesting read.


Just as you collect photos of shrines, I've often thought of collecting pictures of relics in Venice. The problem is most churches do not allow photography. I don't understand this. Why don't they say no flash and have a charge/ honesty box for people to take pictures? Raise a bit of money. Have you seen St.Lucy's remains in Venice? Gold mask for her! And there is the body of John the Baptist's father Zacharias. How old must that be?

Thanks for your comments guys and gals.

Relics are fascinating to me. Andrew, a collection would be so cool but yes, photographing them would be a challenge, not just because of the "no foto" rule but also because many of them aren't that easy to see. St. Lucy is an exception - you can get so close to her and that gold mask.

In November, I visited that room of relics in the San Marco Treasury...all these bones and skulls but nothing is labelled to tell you who's who.

Have you see St. Catherine's foot in Ss. Giovanni e Paulo? You can get very close to that one...you can even tell that it's a foot.

ana :

me voy "en breves" para Venecia pero antes vengo a darme unos paseos por aquí para ir "abriendo boca", felicidades y sigue please!


It must make sense that the bas-relief on the side of the scuola is San Teodoro, but doesn't the cross on his shield look like the cross of San Giorgio? On the other hand, San Giorgio is usually depicted killing the dragon on horseback.

As always informative. Statues, mosaics and photos I can do, but relics give me 'chicken skin' - altho I do find them a bit intriguing!

A, in the Rossetti Letter, Christi Phillips talks about a Venetian custom of not walking between the two columns because it will bring you bad luck. Thought it was interesting and wondering if you had heard of that before. If I remember the thought is this is where they would hang traitors, political prisoners, etc.

Ana, thank you and have a wonderful trip to Venice!

Bert, I guess it's possible that the relief was originally Giorgio but was renamed when it was put onto the facade of the Scuola? Or maybe San Teodoro has a similar cross? I don't know. Good point about the horse - I'm going to look through my San Giorgio pics and see if he's always on a horse.

Menehune, yes I know about that superstition and ever since I learned about it, I have NOT walked between those columns! You're right, it does stem from the fact that public executions used to take place there.


Annie, I suppose you and I are a bit of a gruesome twosome about relics. We went to Padua a while ago (to see the Scrovegni Giottos after reading about your trip there) and we saw the tomb and relics of St. Anthony. In 1981 when they opened his tomb they found his larynx 'incorrupted'. As he was a famed preacher this was taken as a miracle. It's on display now.

LOL at "gruesome twosome"! I admit that they don't make me squeamish at all. When I went to that "church of the bones" in Rome, several other people in my group thought it was such a creepy place but I thought it was very cool.

You saw his larynx?! I hate I missed that. :)


What a great post. I didn't know about San Teodoro and loved learning about him here. The pictures are beautiful. I love seeing the vintage one in reference to today.

I find relics fascinating too but can't really put my finger on why. I imagine his silver mask was really striking in person.

I also didn't know about the superstition connected to walking between the columns or that there may have been public executions there. Now I'm trying to think back and remember if I walked between them. I think I got a gelato at a little shop near them. Hmm.


Relating to the execution place, I think you should create a post about Biasio the butcher! If not folk could look up why he was executed. Here I go again - gruesome!

Biasio! Yes, that's a gruesome story if I'm remembering right...he's the one who ate children? I think he lived in Santa Croce, maybe. Relics are nothing compared to him. :)


He made pies and was very successful until someone found a child's finger in one. He was hung, drawn and quartered between the pillars. Venetian children today are threatened with a visit from him if they're naughty. The quay in Santa Croce is named after him.

Very interesting post and interesting comments :) Eating children and pies with children's fingers in them? And how did I miss that larynx when I was in Padova??

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 28, 2011 11:43 AM.

The previous post in this blog was PhotoHunt: Mostly Black.

The next post in this blog is Titian's Annunciation in San Salvador.

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