Not to be confused with the demolished church that gave its name to the sestiere, Santa Croce; this church with the same name is in Giudecca and is still standing, though it rivals Sant’ Anna for the most crumbling church in Venice.
This church and a Benedictine convent were founded in the 13th century, and the church was rebuilt in 1508-11. After the 19th century suppression, the Santa Croce nuns moved to San Zaccaria, the campanile was demolished, and the religious complex was used as a prison for a while and later as a reform school. Today the church appears to be abandoned, and the former convent is a “casa di lavoro” or half-way house for soon-to-be-free prisoners.
There’s a nice miracle story connected to this place. In 1464, four nuns from this convent died of the plague. One day, a knight visited the convent and asked for a drink of water from their vera da pozzo. He told the nuns to trust God and promised that no more of them would die. They later decided that the mysterious visitor had been San Sebastiano in disguise and that he had blessed the water from their well. No more nuns died during that particular outbreak of the plaque, and 100 years later during the 1576 plague, many people were cured by drinking the miracle-working water from the “pozzo di San Sebastiano” at Santa Croce. I wonder if the vera da pozzo is still there on the grounds of the halfway-house?
The most interesting thing about my visit to this church was how much trouble I had getting there and the cats I found along the way. Getting lost in Venice is a given, but it’s especially funny when you have a map, know where you are and where you’re going, but still can’t figure out how to get there! On the way to this church, I somehow ended up on the other side of a big wall. I could see the church, but it took me a while to figure out how to get to the other side.
So while wondering around trying to get over the wall, I saw the tell-tale cat condos and soon enough found the resident cats, who were decidedly not happy to see me.
Not sure if it means anything, but there were stacks of building materials outside this church. Perhaps a renovation is going on? The place looks pretty far gone, but maybe it's not quite as crumbling inside.