Hidden treasures

The library of the Church of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice

Historical Curiosities

The library of the Church of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice

Far from the usual sightseeing sites, in the popular Castello district in Venice, one can visit the beautiful church of San Francesco della Vigna

The complex was started in 1253 when the son Marco of the Doge Pietro Ziani gave a piece of land with a vineyard on it (hence the name of the church: Vigna or vineyard) to a group of Franciscan monks.

The monastery is also famous for its library, of which there are reliable accounts  already in 1437. Between the 16th and the 18th century it enjoyed a good reputation, both for the texts preserved and for the activities connected with it, such as public theology lectures and the meetings of the Academy for Church Studies.

Following the suppressions of the 19th century and the transformation of the convent into barracks, the assets of the library were largely dispersed, but with the return of the Franciscan community, after the second half of the 19th century, the library was restored thanks to bequests and donations of religious and lay people.

Since 1989, the monastery has been home to the San Bernardino Institute of Ecumenical Studies and in 2001 some old collections that belonged to two deceased monks and  few suppressed Franciscan monasteries were included in the library.

The current collection of books of the library consists of an ancient collection of about 30,000 volumes including chorals, manuscripts, incunabula, books from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and a modern collection of about 80,000 works mostly on religious subjects.

The library can also be viewed with the aid of a guide. Please contact us by email for more information and to check the availability of our guides for a private guided tour of the church and the library of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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