Book Chapter

From calle to insula: the case of Santa Maria della Carità in Venice

The histories of the monastery of Santa Maria della Carità and of the Scuola Grande della Carità are interwoven with the urban physiognomy of the extreme offshoot of the sestiere of Dorsoduro, the very tip of which overlooks St. Mark’s basin, the island of San Giorgio Maggiore (where the Benedictine monastery lies) and the island of the Giudecca.The history of the original founding of the monastery of Santa Maria della Carità has its beginnings on land owned by the Zulian family, on which Marco Zulian had decided to establish a place of worship surrounded by other properties owned by the family1. The land was located along the San Vidal canal, which would eventually become the Grand Canal. The monastery had been affiliated with Santa Maria in Porto outside Ravenna since1134, and the decision to relocate seems to have been imposed from aboveby Pope Innocent II, who urged the canons either to establish themselves inthe assigned seat or to give it up. A few years later the new coenoby cameinto its own, cutting loose from the founder’s family and following the Ruleof St. Augustine. The monastery’s next two settlements in the lagoon were San Salvador and San Clemente in Isola, the religious founding of which was promoted by Enrico Dandolo. Both were crucial parts of Venice’s early urban fabric: the church of San Salvador was built upon divine revelation in the central commercial area of Rialto while the monastery of San Clemente was a resting-place for pilgrims on the island of the same name, located on the route connecting the area of St. Mark’s, the Lido and the mouths of the lagoon. The complex of the Trinità, located near the abbey of San Gregorio and thus connected to the monastery of Santa Maria della Carità, was another transit point for pilgrims en route to the Holy Land2.

Related material