The San Lorenzo field is closely connected to the present religious center which, according to popular tradition, seems to have been founded between the 6th and 7th centuries. According to history, however, it was built thanks to the contribution of the patrician Partecipazio family who erected first a convent of Benedictine nuns in the 9th century and then the church of San Lorenzo, at the service of the monastery. Until the end of the nineteenth century, access to the field was very different from what we find today, in that a narrow street connected to the Fondamenta had to be crossed by a fascinating three-arched bridge, which was immortalized in the sixteenth century by Gentile Bellini in the painting entitled "The Miracle of the Cross fallen in the Rio di San Lorenzo".

The importance of this complex was so significant that over time there has been an exponential increase in its wealth, as in addition to having the legacies of the deceased and the skills of the novices, it was the owner of more than two hundred buildings in the historic center and some plots of land in the countryside. We also remember that San Lorenzo was among the richest monasteries in Venice being reserved for nobles as well as one of the five double convents, for the coexistence of nuns and friars within it. It can easily be said that this promiscuity, added to a vanity in dressing by young and beautiful girls, caused numerous troubles within it where, towards the end of the fourteenth century, a law was issued with the aim of curbing these behaviors decidedly contrary to religious life. , providing age limits for confessors and penalties for violators who entertained themselves with the nuns.

However, very few results obtained both these and the subsequent norms considering that unexpected pregnancies were on the agenda; on the other hand, the young women who entered the convent certainly did not do so for a vocation but rather for a family taxation: in this way, the fathers could enrich the capital of their male children without having to take care of the females.

At the behest of Abbess Angela, sister of Doge Vitale Michiel II, the entire center was remodeled in 1140; in particular, the church was completely rebuilt while the monastery underwent only a few modifications. Other renovations to the religious complex were made at the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, whose intervention should have adorned the facade of the church with marble decorations. Unfortunately the project of Simone Sorella, proto of the Procurators of San Marco, did not see the light. Certainly this factory went down in history for the enormous expense incurred: 47,919 ducats were invested, the skills collected by 8 new nuns of noble families.

During the seventeenth-century restoration, commissioned by Abbess Priuli, it is said that in the foundations of the place of prayer two vases filled with gold coins with Arabic engravings were found, probably from Tire and are presumed buried by Abbess Michiel to remove them from the popular rebellion under which perished the doge brother in 1172.

Marco Polo was buried in the church of San Lorenzo where unfortunately his ashes were ruined in one of the restoration works of the place. Several musicians also decided to be buried in San Lorenzo, probably thanks to the inspiration he was able to give for the composition of numerous musical poems. On August 10 - the patron saint's day - it was customary to organize a sort of music festival in which the Cantori of the Ducal Chapel also took part; curiously, many had renamed the feast of San Lorenzo to "the festival of thieves" for the numerous thefts that were committed to viewers intent on listening to the melodies.

Legendary anecdote represents the event of the accidental fall into water of a precious relic occurred, it is presumed, between 1370 and 1382: during a procession from the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista towards the Church of San Lorenzo, the Holy Cross it fell ruinously in the lagoon and then remained floating on the water; many did their best to recover it but only the Guardian Grando of the School, Andrea Vendramin, succeeded. The grandeur of the episode is handed down to us by Bellini in his painting "The Miracle of the Cross fallen in the Rio di San Lorenzo" which, in addition to showing a wonderful slice of sixteenth-century life, identifies the Queen of Cyprus - Caterina Corner - with the sequel of ancelle (now exhibited at the Gallerie dell'Accademia).

Today in the field you can see - in addition to the unfinished facade of the Church dedicated to Santo Lorenzo and a real well - the San Lorenzo Residence Service Center including a Retirement Home for the elderly, a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic of the San Lorenzo Residence as well as the entrance of the municipal civic center with library and conference room behind the church.

Images gallery

Traveling is wonderful, if you travel in knowledge it is doubly so. Venipedia Supporter is a good way to help us make this journey together ever more participatory, comfortable, useful and stimulating: in knowledge, in discovery, in exploration, in beauty, in inspiration and in how much it can improve the future of all of us. Day by day. Support the quality of Venipedia, with only € 29 per year

Forever yours,
the Venipedian Masters

Support Venipedia

Venipedia Supporter is an annual subscription that gives you access to additional services (like the newsletter Five from the Encyclopedia and Your voice area, which is automatically renewed on expiry if you do not decide to cancel or suspend it, from your personal area (you must have a Venipedia account).

Read also