Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice

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The Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista is a confraternity building located in the San Polo sestiere of the Italian city of Venice. Founded in the 13th century by a group of flagellants it was later to become one of the five Scuole Grande of Venice. These organisations provided a variety of charitable functions in the city as well as becoming patrons of the arts. The Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista is notable for housing a relic of the true cross and for the series of paintings it commissioned from a number of famous Venetian artists depicting Miracles of the Holy Cross. No longer in the school, these came into public ownership during the Napoleonic era and are now housed in the Accademia Gallery. The scuola is open to visitors on a limited number of days, detailed on the official website.


Originally founded in 1261, San Giovanni Evangelista is the second oldest scuola in Venice. Though scuola developed a primary meaning of "school", in Venice these organisations retain their medieval Latin meaning of confraternities, social organisations founded on spiritual principles. Their main buildings were typically used as meeting and assembly halls, and for the distribution of charity. The founders of San Giovanni were a confraternity of flagellants who took part in religious ceremonies, whipping their backs and spraying blood onto the pavements as they processed through the city. This practice was outlawed in the city of Venice in the same year the scuola was founded. Following the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797 the schools were suppressed by a Napoleonic edict. However, during the 19th century San Giovanni Evangelista was one of the ones re-constituted.


The school is defined externally by the open air atrium or courtyard, separated from the city by a marble screen of (1478-81) by Pietro Lombardo. Though appearing harmonious the courtyard is the work of several different periods. The facade of the main scuola dates from the 1450s but incorporates two small reliefs from 1349. Lombardo's Renaissance screen comprises Corinthian pillars, a semi-circular pediment with St John's eagle and a frieze carved with foliage. This gateway was, until the school's dissolution, barred by double doors. Beyond the Oratory is the Sala Dell'Albergo which hosted the government meetings of the School.

  • Gentile Bellini, Miracle of the Cross at the Bridge of S. Lorenzo (1500)<ref name=venicetoday />
  • Giovanni Mansueti, The Miraculous Healing of the Daughter of Benvegnudo of San Polo (c. 1505)
  • Benedetto Diana, Miracle of the Relic of the Holy Cross (1505-1510)

Though many paintings have been moved to other locations the school still houses some original artwork including Domenico Tintoretto's The Crucifixion, signed and dated 1626. The Salone contains visions of the Apocalypse by Tiepolo.<ref name=honour-63 />

See also

  • The Vendramin Family of Venice