Churches of Venice: Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta detta i Gesuiti

While Venice is a city of gothic, Byzantine and Middle Eastern influences, the counter-reformation and baroque are certainly also to be found in that city, and it is likely no surprise that if we want to see one of the best examples of that, we need only turn to the church of one of the priestly societies most attached to that period and style, the Jesuits. 

The Jesuit church of Venice is the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, sometimes simply referred to as the Chiesa dei Gesuita. It's facade is one that looks as though it were pulled straight out of the Rome of Pope Urban VIII, integrating nicely with Venice's otherwise colourful architecture. 

The fact of this being the Jesuit church of Venice is perhaps no more clearly marked on its facade than by the prominent inclusion of the Holy Name monogram to be found over the main door of the church, triumphantly presented by two angels on each side holding thuribles: 

Venice is in fact tied to St. Ignatius rather closely for it was from here he departed, as a layman, on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and to Venice that he returned with companions calling themselves the "Society of Jesus" and it was in Venice that St. Ignatius and companions were ordained to the priesthood after having received the approbation of Pope Paul III for the newly founded priestly society.

Returning to the church building itself however, construction on the current church (previously occupied by an earlier church structure) began in 1715, being finally completed and consecrated in 1728.  The church was designed by architect Domenico Rossi according to the principles laid down by the Council of Trent, and consistent with much ecclesiastical architecture of the counter-reformation period, highlighting the altar, the Blessed Sacrament and preaching. 

The interior is exactly what one would expect from a church of this period and of a Jesuit church in general, coming in the cruciform shape of a Latin cross with transept altars and various chapels located along the nave. 

The church includes a very large and ornate canopied altarpiece (dedicated to the Holy Trinity) with accompanying tabernacle and exposition throne. The walls also include beautiful inlaid marble patterns, set into a very Venetian like textile pattern. Here are two historical photos showing the church in its most intact, historical incarnation:

Some contemporary photos better shown the colours in the church. Fortunately the church remains substantially and historically in tact. One will see the beautiful green marbles that form the designs of the altar, altarpiece and walls, set into complimentary contrast with the golden hues of the ceiling.

The tabernacle of the High Altar

The Holy Trinity as depicted in the altarpiece of the high altar

Some further details including the ceiling which includes frescoes by Ludivico Dorigny of the Triumph of the Holy Name amongst others:


The Triumph of the Holy Name

The various side altars are also impressive, here are just a few of them:

Altar of St. Ignatius

Chapel of St. Joseph

Altar of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary which includes a 16th century painting by Tintoretto

Chapel of St. Francis Xavier

Finally, here are a few other features of this impressive church.

The pulpit

The Archangel Gabriel

Detail from the Altar of St. Ignatius

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