Even today it is not known exactly when the church was founded, some believe - also given the dedication to San Martino - dating back to the eighth century by the Lombard colonies or by families of Ferrara who fled their native country. According to tradition, however, it seems that the origins are even more ancient and linked to the sixth and seventh centuries, a historical period in which the Venetian government had not yet been transferred from Malamocco to Rialto. It is also believed that the fate of the church is linked to two noble families, Vallaressa and Saloniga, who were financially committed to its construction.

Despite this, the first official sources date back to the 13th-14th centuries and demonstrate a parish organization consisting of the parish priest and a certain number of religious: three priests, a deacon, a sub-deacon and two or four clerics. Subsequently, the administration of the sacraments was entrusted solely to the parish priest who, starting from 1807, was erected by the Patriarchal Curia of Venice. The church was fortunate, unlike many other temples, to survive despite the Napoleonic decrees of suppression of Venetian places of worship.

As we ignore the origins of the place, the same applies to the architectural structure of the first building which was completely remodeled between the 9th and 10th centuries, assuming the Venetian-Byzantine style, even if the currently visible construction dates back to the 16th century. The skilled hands of Jacopo Sansovino completely revolutionized the church's layout, rotating it 90 degrees and completely changing its design: a square plan, two chapels on each side and a presbytery with a vaulted ceiling, pleasantly frescoed by Domenico Bruni.

Numerous and of great fame the artists who worked inside the church, among others: Jacopo Guarana with the Glory of San Martino, Giovanni Segala with the altarpiece depicting Santa Cecilia and San Lorenzo Giustiniani, Giovanni Laudis with the Holy Family with San Marco and Bishop Foca, Antonio Zanchi with The Virgin in Glory and Saints Joseph and Anthony of Padua, Fabio Canal with the Sacrifice of Abraham and the Sacrifice of Melchizedek adorn the presbytery, the Madonna Addolorata by Jacopo Palma the Younger flanked by three angels bearing the symbols of passion and Deposition of Christ. Sebastiano Messenali is the creator of the pulpit while Tullio Lombardo is the creator of the small altar, an excellent imitation of the one built for the church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and today used as a baptistery.

The parapet of the organ built by Pietro Nacchini and restored by Gaetano Callido, decorated by Gerolamo Santacroce with the Supper of Christ and, in the center of the right wall, the funeral monument dedicated to Doge Francesco Erizzo and designed by Mattia Carnero.

Next to the church, there is the Oratory of the Scuola di San Martino on whose door there is a 15th-century bas-relief depicting the saint in the act of giving his cloak to a poor man, above which a large cross is visible. This poignant moment in the life of the Saint is remembered with a party - November 11 - for the whole family, a moment to taste together a shortcrust pastry enriched with chocolate and sugared almonds or quince - whose design recalls the bas-relief positioned next to the church -, during which children, telling nursery rhymes, happily and noisily walk the streets of Venice to ask the houses and shopkeepers for sweets as gifts:

San Martin xe 'ndà in sofita​
a trovar ea so' novissa
so' novissa no ghe gera
San Martin col cuło par tera
E col nostro sachetìn
cari signori xe San Martin.

(San Martin went to the attic
to find her novice
her novice was not there
San Martin with his ass on the ground
And with our little bag
dear sirs is San Martin.)

Images gallery

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