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May 22, 2007
From journal Getting lost in Venezia
by Ed Hahn
Hong Kong, China
September 6, 2005
After the death of St. Francis of Assisi, some of his followers traveled to Venice. The government eventually gave them an old abandoned Benedictine monastery to live in. In 1250, they started to build St. Mary the Glorious later called the "Frari" (Friars) because members of all religious communities were welcome there. The original was torn down in the early 15th century and replaced by the current edifice. It was finally finished and consecrated in 1492. The interior is just as magnificent as the outer façade. It is built in a Latin cross pattern, with a central aisle and side aisles, divided by twelve massive pillars. The original monastery, which we didn’t visit, houses the city’s archives and contains Venice’s entire history.
Entering the church is like entering an artistic wonderland. Titian’s altarpiece, the "Assumption" overwhelms us at first. A Bellini "Madonna with Child" graces the sacristy. A Donatello carving of St. John the Baptist is in the choir chapel. The Doge Francesco Foscari’s tomb is impressive. Titian and Canova are buried next to each other. Their tombs are interesting but not spectacular. Canova’s is a pyramid (see below) and was originally designed for Titian’s tomb.
We are awed by what we see but eventually are tempted to leave so we can have an alfresco lunch on the Campo outside the church. There are food stands and towering shade trees around the outer rim of the Campo. Just west of the church and very near where we end up eating our panninis is a church and museum we seriously considered visiting, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, which houses 50 Titian paintings. Unfortunately, it isn’t as high a priority as the Gallerie dell’Accademia.
Entry to "Frari" is free, and it’s open every day but closed in the evenings unless there’s a mass being celebrated. Picture-taking is allowed.
From journal Venal Venice - Beautiful and Decaying
Cheltenham, United Kingdom
July 9, 2005
From journal Hidden Venice