Hidden treasures

The Chapel of the Holy Face in the abandoned Church Dei Servi in Venice

Unknown places & works
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The Chapel of the Holy Face in the abandoned Church Dei Servi in Venice

In the Cannaregio district in Venice, once stood the Church Dei Servi di Maria, which is a majestic Gothic building with a convent where the famous theologian Paolo Sarpi lived.

This extraordinary complex was destroyed in 1813 and very little of it remains today, including the Chapel of the Holy Face.

Erected in 1360 by the community of Lucca, because a large group of political exiles had moved to Venice in 1317, this chapel was consecrated in 1376 and a copy of the Holy Face was here worshipped (now preserved in the museum of the Patriarchal Seminary), consisting of a wooden crucifix that, according to legend, was not made by human hands in the aftermath of the Deposition from the Cross. This crucifix is now worshipped in the Cathedral of St Martin in Lucca. Despite being stripped in the 19th century, the chapel still retains the splendid original ceiling with images of the Fathers of the Church and the symbols of the four Evangelists, probably the work of the Venetian painter Nicolò Semitecolo (dating back to the second half of the 14th century).

The Chapel of the Holy Face was saved from demolition of the large complex of the Servi and initially became a warehouse. In 1859, it was acquired by the abbot Daniel Canal and Anna Maria Marovich to be converted into the church of the Institute for the rescue of women released from prison. In the '80s, following the closure of the Marovich Institute, the Santa Fosca  Student House was created here, which in fact, still looks after the chapel.

The Chapel of the Holy Face and many other fascinating and relatively unknown places of interest await you in Venice for an unusual and unprecedented guided tour away from the usual tourist routes of the historic centre. Francesca, our brilliant guide, can arrange for an unusual and secret private visit to Venice!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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