It reads in the early modern treaties on capital punishment that the main purpose of the conforterias in Italian cities was to make sure that the condemned accepted his own death and accepted it in a state of grace. Only through this way would the soul stop in the transitory condition of Purgatory avoiding to sink into the infernal torments.

The School of San Fantin - the only secular brotherhood authorized by the Serenissima - was founded in the fifteenth century to give this spiritual comfort to those sentenced to death and for this reason it was also defined as the Good Death or the Picái (i.e. hanged in Italian ). In the hours preceding the moment of execution, which usually took place between the two columns in Piazza San Marco, the confreres tried to ensure the salvation of the souls of the prisoners, visiting them first in their cell, then accompanying them all the way to the gallows and, from 1614, providing them with a worthy burial.

Detail of the ceiling of the Aula Magna inside the Ateneo Veneto

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