Santa Maria Assunta (I Gesuiti)


Santa Maria Assunta I Gesuiti, is a baroque style church located in the district of Cannaregio on the northern shore of Venice. Cannaregio was mostly populated by working class people and also was the district containing the jewish ghetto. I Gesuiti designed by architect Domenico Rossi in 1715 and completed in 1729. The project was financed by the aristocratic Manin family of Venice for the Jesuits. In the 18th Century, the Jesuits were banished from Venice for 50 years due to religious turmoil. They intended to make their return to Venice known, marking the reintroduction of their religious order by constructing Santa Maria Assunta I Gesuiti.

Due to its location, most of the church’s visitors approach the church from the side. To overcome this perspective problem, Rossi designed the building to stand out even from a profile perspective. The church still makes a unique first impression because Rossi chose to extend the front façade of the church farther out into the street so that it stands out in depth and height among the surrounding, unadorned buildings.

Santa Maria Assunta has ornate features on its facade give it a more unique presence on the street. The façade itself is split into two tiers, the lower tier consists of eight columns that support the upper tier which has eight statues and four niches, to represent the twelve apostles. There are also four saints on the sides of the entrance––James the Greater, Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and Saint Matthew the Evangelist.

The structure of the building follows a traditional Jesuit church: a Latin cross with three chapels in the longest wing shape the ground layout. The ornate altar makes the centerpiece of the farthest wall from the front entrance of the church, creating the relatively open space inside the building. The decorative baroque-style continues from the facade to the detailed interior. Sculptors Filippo Catasto and Giuseppe Ziminiani used marble work to detail the interior of the church pristinely. Adorning the pulpit, he created the look of fabric curtains, complete with tassels and fringe. There is patterned marble, mosaics, and pastel-colored frescoes lining the walls and ceilings, with the additional ornamentation of sculptures and relics, creating a dramatic but statement space for the Jesuits to worship. One of the most unique pieces of art is above the tabernacle of the altar, depicting Jesus Christ and God the Father on top of the globe.

Santa Maria Assunta, in comparison to other buildings, looks like many of Rossi’s other works. When looking at San stae, St Daniele’s cathedral, and Chiesa di San Girlamo there are continuities in that the buildings are very symmetrical and angular with the front door as a focal point and they have similar pillars and roof shape. The geometric exterior of his buildings contrast the interior as they have many domes and arches.


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