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Santa Maria del Soccorso


This little church was part of a charitable institution founded in 1580 by famous Venetian courtesan and poet, Veronica Franco (1546-1591), who is the subject of the book, The Honest Courtesan by Margaret Rosenthal, and the 1998 film, Dangerous Beauty.

“Soccorso” means succor, relief, rescue, and assistance, and this church was part of a larger complex dedicated to providing all of these to former and/or reformed prostitutes. The complex included housing (Casa del Soccorso), a cloister, and gardens along with this church. Veronica Franco petitioned the Venetian government and also recruited her wealthy noble friends to provide funding to aid these women. The first location was a small house close to the church of the Tolentini and then they moved to this location in Dorsoduro not far from the church of Angelo Raffaele.

Veronica Franco died before the larger hospice opened in 1601. There’s a legend that she was the model for a painting on the main altar of the church, but I’m not sure if that’s true. The complex was closed in 1807, and the residents moved to Cannaregio to a similar refuge connected to the church of Santa Maria dei Penitenti.

Today it’s an oratory (Oratorio della Congregazione Suore di Carità delle Sante Capitanio e Gerosa) and I don’t know if or when it's ever open. I haven't seen photos of the interior, but the Patriarch of Venice site reports that it has a Rococo altarpiece painting of La Vergine Immacolata by Jacopo Amigoni, and a stucco ceiling with a painting of the Madonna and Child.


Veronica Franco wrote a number of poems describing her love for her native Venezia; here are a couple of them~

The sea itself yearns toward this city’s realm,
Holds turbulences off from it,
While winding through its Eminence
Composed upon a water-woven throne-
A maze of intersecting liquid ways,
An endless plan of serviceable paths


In a manner from the worldly set apart,
Venice is built upon the water by celestial, supernatural decree,
And the King of Heaven was pleased to found in her
The safe, eternal rest of his faith,
Which elsewhere lay oppressed,
And for his own delight on this shore he placed
All the most acclaimed and vaunted sweetness.

Painting of Veronica Franco by Tintoretto~



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Comments (8)

Wasn't she lovely!
I just posted photos of a shrine I saw in Castello, onto my blog; I must go through your archives to see if you have described it.

Wasn't she gorgeous!

I've just posted some photos, on my blog, of the Corte de Ca' Sarasina shrine in Castello. It's a gobsmacker, that one.

May I please post a link to your blog post about this shrine on my blog?


Hi Yvonne, yes, you are welcome to post a link. Isn't that an awesome shrine? I'm glad you found it...it's one of the very best!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, I enjoyed reading about Veronica Franco and what she was able to accomplish in her life. I love the two poems you posted a lot. I also love seeing that painting of her. I'm drawn to the softness of her face. Now I want to watch Dangerous Beauty, which is an interesting title.

Thanks so much for sharing your photos and background Story on Veronica Franco. Have a great day today.

Kathy, I think you would enjoy the movie; she had an interesting life and of course, the Venice scenery is fun to see!

Thanks, Annie. :-)

Annie, I just love this post on Veronica Franco. Seeing her painting, she was very pretty. I have to tell you, one of my very favorite movies,is "Dangerous Beauty", I can't tell you how many times I have watched it ;)). I love to see the scenes of Venice of course, and I really like Rufus Sewell too! So to read about her was so fun, thank you so much!!! Have a great week!


What a lovely story -- and I also enjoyed the film Dangerous Beauty!

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