Churches of Venice: Chiesa dei Gesuati (Santa Maria del Rosario)

The church of Santa Maria del Rosario in Venice is more commonly known simply as the Chiesa dei Gesuati -- though this should not be confused with the Jesuit church of Venice, Santa Maria Assunta. The church is relatively new, a true baroque building designed by the architect Giorgio Massari with construction taking place between 1724-1736.  Interestingly, while the church is called the Jesuit church (due to the fact that there originally was a Jesuit church in this area), this particular church was actually built by and for the Dominicans -- whose influence and presence are made quite clear in the art of the church. 

Perhaps the most striking thing about this church is its exterior facade, its two beautiful baroque campanili (belltowers) and its classical Italo-Byzantine styled dome. 

The facade itself, classical in nature, contains four statues that allegorically depict the four cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance.

Fortitude and Temperance

The interior of the church sees it having a single nave with chapels along the length of the nave -- a model typical of churches constructed in this particular era.  

Within the church are various reliefs depicting scenes from the life of Christ.  Not visible here are also four impressive statues in the area beneath the cupola depicting the Old Testament priestly figures Aaron and Melchizidek and also the New Testament figures of Ss. Peter and Paul.

Aaron and Melchizidek
St. Peter and St. Paul

The high altar takes on a form fairly typical for the north of Italy and particularly here of Venice with it being compromised of an exposition throne surmounted by a reredos. 

Visible also in this next photos are the distinctive textile covered columns that commonly appear in Venice during festal times of the year -- in this case, utilizing classic Venetian velvet.  One will note that, as is typically the case in Italy, behind the altar is the choir. 

As mentioned earlier, the Dominican presence and origins of the church can be quite clearly seen through much of the art of this church. Here are just a few examples.

The Institution of the Rosary by Tiepolo

Altar of St. Dominic

Altar of three Dominican saints

Detail: St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Pius V and St. Peter Martyr

If you are in Venice and you have a Dominican or rosary based spirituality, while it is a little off the usual beaten paths of Venice, this may be a church you'll want to make the effort to see.

Do you like Liturgical Arts Journal's original content? You can help support LAJ in its mission and vision to promote beauty in Catholic worship either by: 

You choose the amount! Your support makes all the difference.

Join in the conversation on our Facebook page.