Santa Ternita was a parish church in Castello, founded around 1026 and built with funds from the Celsi and Sagredo families (the Sagredo’s enormous 15th century palazzo is nearby). The church was located at Castello 3026 next to the Ponte del Sufragio where an apartment building stands today. The residents of this parish were working class for the most part, many of them employed at the nearby Arsenale. The church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity (an unusual non-human saint).
The church was rebuilt in 1507 and restored several times (in 1569 after a fire in the Arsenale, and again in 1721).
Santa Ternita was deconsecrated and closed in 1810, and the church building was used for timber storage until 1832 when it was demolished. The campanile survived a while longer than the church; it was cut in half and converted into private homes. But the tower collapsed on December 13, 1880, burying a resident named Giovanni Baratelli who was pulled from the rubble unharmed.
This 1847 drawing shows the campo after the church had been demolished but before the campanile was cut in half~
Several Santa Ternita priests have entered the history books for dubious behavior. One of them was banished from Venice in 1607 because he was part of the gang that attempted to assassinate Fra Paulo Sarpi.
Another priest entered the public record in 1617 when it was discovered that he was sending love letters, poetry, and gifts to a nun at San Sepolcro and to two other nuns at San Daniele (both nearby convents).
And then there’s the wild story of Santa Ternita priest Francesco Vincenzi who, along with a young Venetian woman, Antonia Pesenti, was brought before the Inquisition in 1668 for religious fraud that involved a “miraculous” painting of the Virgin Mary in the church. Antonia would go into ecstatic religious trance before this painting, and the priest was spreading the word around Venice that she was a “living saint” (crowds began coming to Santa Ternita for the spectacle and in hopes of receiving a miracle). It’s a complicated story told in the book, Aspiring Saints: Pretense of Holiness, Inquisition, and Gender in the Republic of Venice, 1618-1750 by Anne Jacobson Schutte.
As I wrote in my post about Campo Do Pozzi, the church of Santa Ternita is honored in that campo with a carving on the remaining well-head. For some quirky reason, other Castello churches are commemorated on the Campo Santa Ternita well-head with reliefs of St. Francis of Assisi and John the Baptist (the reliefs are so degraded that it’s hard to tell which saint is which, but my guess is that John the Baptist is the first one). Both of these churches still stand – San Francesco della Vigna (which is now the parish church for the residents of Santa Ternita) and San Giovanni in Bragora.
The church of Santa Ternita had paintings by Palma il Giovane, Giambattista Tiepolo, and maybe even Vittore Carpaccio (I haven’t been able to find out which painting and where it is now). Some of the church’s art was moved to San Francesco della Vigna after Santa Ternita was supressed.
The church also had a couple of famous relics. One was Venetian saint San Gerardo Sagredo, a Benedictine monk who was martyred in Hungary in 1047. There was a chapel dedicated to him which contained a painting of the saint by Girolamo da Santacroce. There’s a modern church dedicated to San Gerardo Sagredo in Giudecca (maybe the relics are there now).
The other relic was even more famous. In the 13th century, Santa Ternita received the body of St. Anthanasius (he was first stolen from Egypt and taken to Constantinople, then the Venetians brought him to Venice).
This saint was the 4th century Bishop of Alexandria who participated in the Council of Nicea where the Nicene Creed was developed. He helped to decide which religious texts should become “official” books of The Bible and which should not (the 27 books he proposed ended up being the New Testament). His relics are now in the church of San Zaccaria.
A cool building in this campo (hard to tell what those old traces indicate, bigger windows perhaps?)~
The campanile of San Francesco della Vigna is visible from Camp Santa Ternita~
Another nice thing in this campo: a modern lunette with a 14th century relief of the Madonna and child inside~
A 1905 drawing of the campo~
You can read about other demolished churches here.