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San Giuseppe di Castello

A modest convent church

S. Giuseppe di Castello

One of Venice’s more obscure churches, dedicated to St Joseph (or Sant' Iseppo) this church was built in 1515 by the Senate by popular demand: every other saint on the calendar (and many figures from the Old Testament, too) had a church in Venice, so why not Joseph? It wasn't fair. Augustan nuns were brought in from Verona, replaced in 1801 by the Salesian Order, who still own it today. The convent now serves as a nautical school.

Prettily set next to a bridge, it has a simple, classical façade with an Adoration of the Magi over the door, commissioned by the Grimani family, who took a personal interest in the church.

Within, it preserves a rare barco, or wooden gallery, where the nuns used to sing. The most impressive monument is the left aisle’s Tomb of Doge Marino Grimani (d. 1605), designed by Scamozzi with figures and good reliefs (a Nativity with angel musicians) sculpted by Gerolamo Campagna. Look for paintings: an Adoration of the Shepherds by Veronese and Tintoretto’s deliciously-entitled Archangel Michael Overcoming Lucifer in the Presence of a Venetian Senator.

The altar was dedicated in honour of the victory of Lepanto and has a marble relief of the battle. The battle order as shown isn’t quite right – the Turks had their ships in a crescent as shown, but the Christians attacked in a straight line, with the five big galleasses in the centre leading the charge (in the relief the god Neptune seems to be cheering them on). In the sanctuary, a Grimani who served as a procurator is remembered with a monument and bust by Alessandro Vittoria.

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A CHORUS church (from April to October only).

Hours Apr-Oct Mon-Sat 10am-5pm. In winter, open for Sunday mass at 9am, and on weekdays at 6pm (but best to ring first)

Adm €3

Campo San Giuseppe

vaporetto: Giardini

+39 041 5221162

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Godromil, P-D Art