Chiesa degli Scalzi
The church of Santa Maria di Nazareth, better known as the Chiesa degli Scalzi, or simply I Scalzi, was built in 1670-72 by Baldassare Longhena for the barefooted (scalzi) order of the Carmelites.
The elaborate Baroque façade (1672-80) was designed by Giuseppe Sardi and financed, to the tune of 74,000 ducats, by Count Gerolamo Cavazza. The count had just bought his way into the ranks of the Venetian nobility and was keen to rival the patronage of its older families. The coat of arms of Cavazza, who is buried in the church of Madonna dell'Orto, can be seen at the top of the façade.
The statues are by Clemente Moli, Francesco Penso, Giovanni Bonazza and Tommaso Ruer. The statues in the niches on the lower tier depict saints Sebastian, Mary Magadalene, Margaret and John the Baptist, while on the upper tier we have statues of Saint Jerome (Cavazza's name-saint) and the Virgin and Child. The empty niche, to the right, once contained a statue of Hope, but in 1920 this fell to the ground and broke into pieces. The apex of the façade is crowned with a statue of Christ Resurrected. The statues at either end of the pediment depict Adam and Eve, who have been liberated from Limbo.
The lavishly ornate interior, one of the best examples of Venetian Baroque, comprises a single nave flanked by side-chapels, a presbytery and a choir. The seven statues of the apostles, in the niches of the nave, have been attributed to both Clemente Moli and Giovanni Melchiori.
The huge and extravagantly ornate tabernacle in the apse was designed by Giuseppe Pozzo, a Carmelite friar. The two statues, which peep out from the clusters of columns depict Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross, the founders of the Scalzi.
Ludovico Manin, the last doge of Venice, is interred in the Cappella della Sacra Famiglia, the second chapel on the left. Manin reigned from 1789 until 1797. He died in 1802. The chapel was designed by Giuseppe Pozzo and the sculpture of the Holy Family has been attributed to Henrich Meyring.
The chapel directly opposite, on the other side of the nave, is dedicated to Santa Teresa. Pozzo designed the chapel and Meyring carved the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. The ceiling fresco of The Transit of Saint Teresa (1722-24) is by Giambattista Tiepolo.
The ceiling of the nave was originally frescoed (1743) by Giambattista Tiepolo, but his painting of the Transport of the Holy House to Loreto was mostly destroyed by an Austrian bomb in 1915. The surviving fragments can be see in the Gallerie dell'Accademia.
The ceiling is now decorated with a painting of The Council of Ephesus Proclaiming the Virgin Mary the Mother of God (1929-34), the work of Ettore Tito, who is buried in the church.
Copyright © David Lown 2001-2016. All rights reserved.