Venice's first great plague
church was built to celebrate the deliverance from the plague of 1575-7.
An especially conspicuous site was chosen, one that could be approached
in grandly ceremonial fashion. The ceremony continues today, on every
third Sunday of July, when a bridge of boats is built across the Giudecca
Andrea Palladio, who always paid
great attention to the settings of his buildings, was a natural choice
as architect. He designed an eye-catching building whose prominent dome
appears to rise directly behind the Greek-temple façade, giving
the illusion that the church is centrally planned, as was traditional with
sanctuaries and votive temples outside Venice. A broad flight of steps
sweeps up to the great entrance door, an effect Palladio had often used
in his mainland villas.
The solemn and harmonious interior,
with its single nave lit by large `thermal' windows, testifies to Palladio's
study of Roman baths. However, the Capuchin monks, the austere order to
whom the building had been entrusted, were not pleased by its grandeur;
Palladio attempted to mollify them by designing their choir stalls in a
deliberately plain style.
The best paintings are in the Sacristy,
including a Virgin and Child by Alvise Vivarini and a Baptism by Veronese.