I already wrote about the Venice Scuole in the post regarding Venetian Guilds and in that about La Scuola Grande di San Rocco. La Scuola di San Giovanni Evengelista was a confraternity founded in 1261. It is therefore the most ancient in Venice. Its members were Saint John’s devotees.
At the end of 1300 the chancellor of Cyprus and Jerusalem gave to the Scuola a fragment of the True Cross. It became a symbol of the confraternity and a subject of great devotion.
In 1400s the Council of Ten decided to improve it and decorate the Scuola di San Giovanni. Many important artists were hired. Among them Bellini, Carpaccio, Tiziano e Perugino. With the Napoleonic suppression the majority of the works were moved at the Accademia Galleries. You can see them there. In particular the canvases about the miracle of the cross. All of them, but the ones by Perugino, which went lost.
Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista Exterior
It’s very surprising. To reach the Scuola I was coming from the train station and I crossed many small and narrow and rather shabby calli. Then, I turned right an I found myself in front of this dazzling white, elegantly carved, majestic marble portal.
The eagle on the top center is the symbol of San Giovanni Evangelista. Why? According to the Christian tradition, through the vision described in his Apocalypse, he was able see the true light of Christ’s word. As much as the eagle can stare directly the light of the sun.
Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista Interior
On the ground floor, other than the Green (former warehouse) and the Blue (administrative office) room, you find the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista main hall (Hall of Columns), where the brothers and the pilgrims once gathered. It currently hosts exhibitions and concerts.
The Great Staircase lead you to the upper floor.
There you can admire the Salone (Sala Capitolare). On one side there’s San Giovanni’s altar. The statue represents the Saint while writing the Gospel, inspired by an angel. The paintings on the walls depict the life of the Saint. The big one on the ceiling is a representation of the Apocalypse.
Two other rooms are the Oratory of the Cross, the Stucchi Room and the Albergo Room (once the place for the School members meetings), adorned with four canvases by Palma il Giovane.
Facing the Scuola, you can visit the church. The most important painting is the Crucifixion by Tintoretto.
I think that the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni can be interesting to visit if you’re in the surrounding area or if you wish to see something that is little known compared to the great highights of the city.
Scuola di San Giovanni Visits Calendar
The visits calendar is very complex, so I suggest you to look at www.scuolasangiovanni.it/calendar