Hidden treasures

The 'astrological' façade of the of San Zulian church in Venice

Unknown places & works

The 'astrological' façade of the of San Zulian church in Venice

Near St Mark's Square in Venice, there is a small church dedicated to San Giuliano Ospitaliere (in Venetian dialect Zulian), with a decidedly unique facade: there is a sculpture in the centre and various inscriptions in different alphabets.

The facade was commissioned in 1553 by the doctor Tommaso Rangone, a singular character who had become very rich selling a natural remedy against syphilis derived from a native plant to South America.  He wrote a famous treatment entitled 'How man can live longer than 120 years', in which he advised that consumption of drugs should be minimized and a healthy lifestyle practised, eating only a little and studying a lot.

On the facade one can see the doctor sitting on a funeral ark, wearing his professional toga (a symbol of his immense knowledge); his figure is inscribed in a semi-circular space, a symbol of heaven over earth and has on the right a celestial globe with an inclination of 44° 30'(the latitude of Venice) and shows the horoscope of the date of his birth (18 August 1493) with a sign of a lion at the centre. The globe is supported by a cube that represents stability as opposed to the movement, to the left there is instead a table with some books and a globe where you can see the Atlantic Ocean, which separates Europe from South America (where the plant for the treatment of syphilis came from).

Tommaso Rangone holds the miraculous plant in his right hand and a book in his left with the inscription DEUS HIQ that purports that God is on each side (in the sky and the earth).

The facade also shows three other inscriptions: one in Latin that discloses biographical and legal information, one in Greek that illustrates the cultural merits of Rangone and one in Hebrew that mentions the chance to live up to 120 years.

The San Zulian  Church could be one of the destinations to include in your alternative route in Venice. Contact us now to request the availability of our guides and plan a unique tour of your dreams! 

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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