Venice's first great plague church was commissioned to celebrate deliverance from the bout of 1575-77. An especially conspicuous site was chosen, one that could be approached in ceremonial fashion. The ceremony continues today, on every third Sunday of July, when a bridge of boats is built across the canal. Palladio designed an eye-catching building whose prominent dome appears to rise directly behind the Greek-temple façade, giving the illusion that the church is centrally planned, as was traditional with sanctuaries and votive temples outside Venice. A broad flight of steps leads to the entrance.
Its solemn, harmonious interior, with a single nave lit by large 'thermal' windows, testifies to Palladio's study of Roman baths. But the Capuchin monks, the austere order to whom the building was entrusted, were not pleased by its grandeur; Palladio attempted to mollify them by designing their choir stalls in a plain style. The best paintings are in the sacristy, which is rarely open; they include a Virgin and Child by Alvise Vivarini and a Baptism by Veronese.
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