San Canciano looks kind of rough from the outside but is quite pretty inside. It’s a lacy romantic feminine church, maybe it’s the floral carvings and all the pastels - pink walls and light blue marble. I always enjoy visiting this small parish church.
San Canciano is not far from the more famous and glamorous Chiesa dei Miracoli. It was founded in the 9th century, rebuilt after the 1105 fire, restored and remodeled several times, and is mainly Renaissance in style with a number of Baroque altars and paintings. A new façade was added in 1705, paid for by Michele Tommasi whose bust is over the entrance to the church.
The church is dedicated to three saints: brothers Canziano and Canzio, and their sister, Canzianilla; all three were martyred in 304. It might be easy to confuse this church with San Cassiano (different saint, different sestiere).
San Canciano is home to a number of sacred relics including a thorn from the crown of Christ and the relics of San Massimo (see altar below, the angels are supporting the gold box that holds the relics). San Massimo (St. Maximus) was a Greek theologian and monk, and is a saint honored by both the Orthodox and the Catholic church. He authored "Life of the Virgin," the earliest known biography of Mary.
The campanile is 15th century and contains a plaque with a 13th century relief of Christ above it.
When you google this church, you get a million links to the John Singer Sargent painting: Leaving Church, Campo San Canciano, Venice, 1882. It's a nice painting. The vera da pozzo in the painting is still there.
Here are a few other places on the web where you can see the interior of San Canciano, and its painting and altars:
A 2010 YouTube video of a concert after the church’s Callido organ had been restored. So many people in attendance and it sounds beautiful! The first time I visited this church was during evening mass; there were three Venetian ladies there, the priest, and me. So I was happy to see so many people at that concert.
This post about artist Bartolomeo Letterini
The church's website is actually the website for the whole parish. San Canciano is the main parish church, and its "daughter" churches are Miracoli, San Giovanni Crisostomo, and San Michele in Isola.
There’s another interesting connection between San Canciano and Miracoli. In his 1907 guidebook, Thomas Okey included a chapter called “The Virgin of the Amadi” that recounts the story of the miracle-working image of the Madonna that inspired the building of the Miracoli church. At the end of the story, he notes, “The faded, worm-eaten and forgotten old picture that evoked this sumptuous casket for its preservation is now in the church of S. Canciano.”
Well, I looked for a worm-eaten Madonna in San Canciano but didn't find it. I always had my doubts that the painting on the Miracoli altar was really the one inside the original shrine!
The photo below is a detail from the facade of San Canciano - the stucco has chipped off and you can see all these beautiful old bricks! It amazes me to see so many different colors. I love the yellow ones. They look so very old.
A bit of a mystery about San Canciano. One side of the church is painted this mustard-yellow color. But on the other side, only two small sections have been painted. Did they run out of paint? Change their mind about the color? It's been like this since at least 2007!
TO VISIT THIS CHURCH
Open daily from 7:15 - Noon, and 3:00-7:00 pm
Sunday Mass: 8:30, 10:30, 7 pm (evening Mass is suspended in the summer)
Daily Mass: 7 pm
A fossil in the floor of San Canciano. I love finding these things!