9th edition of "Churches of Venice. New Research Perspectives" International Conference
Edited by Maria Agnese Chiari Moretto Wiel and David D’Andrea
The project “Churches of Venice. New Research Perspectives” – begun in 2010 and from 2017 supported by the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice and currently sponsored by Save Venice Inc. – consists of a multi-year program of interdisciplinary conferences each focused on a specific Venetian church. The project is designed to engage different disciplines for a deeper understanding of the complex social and religious phenomena embodied in Venetian churches, physical spaces created to serve a variety of religious functions and meanings. In addition to investigating Venetian churches from “new research perspectives”, the project also strives to disseminate the latest research to the general public through the publication of the conference proceedings in a dedicated book series published by Viella1.
After having studied the churches of San Bartolomeo (2011), Scalzi (2012), San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti (2013), San Zaccaria (2014), San Pietro di Castello (2015), San Giacomo dall’Orio (2017), San Polo (2019) and Santa Maria dei Servi (forthcoming in 2020), the conference scheduled for December 2021 will investigate, for the first time in a systematic way, the history of the church of San Rocco. The conference is scheduled for three days, with the last sessions to take place on site in the church. Participants will have access to a professional photographer who will take images on request for use at the conference and in the subsequent publication.
The church of San Rocco is the only Venetian church that is both a confraternal devotional space and a sanctuary that houses the body of the titular saint, who was translated to Venice in 1485 and located in the main altar since 1520. The power of Saint Rocco to heal those stricken by the plague made the church an international pilgrimage destination. To properly venerate San Rocco, the confraternity adorned the religious space with significant works of art and constructed an organ and choir gallery to foster liturgical devotion focused on the altar-reliquary. The original church, built in 1489, was heavily restructured by Giovanni Scalfarotto between 1726 and 1733. The rebuilt façade, completed by Bernardino Maccaruzzi in 1769, unifies the confraternity’s ritual space, which encompasses the square and the adjacent streets.
The conference proposes to examine, in a broad chronological and interdisciplinary approach, significant aspects of this devotional space, where processions, festivals, and pilgrimages reaffirmed the status of the confraternity and the healing power of San Rocco both in Venetian life and in universal Catholic devotion.
In particular, the organizers would like to examine the following themes:
- Origins of the cult of San Rocco in Venice, the foundation of the Scuola and the building of the church, and the relationship between the church and confraternity.
- The church in the 15th and 16th centuries: architecture, altars, and decorative furnishings. The relationship between the church of San Rocco and the other confraternal churches in Venice.
- The transformations and renovations of the church in the 17th and 18th centuries.
- The church of San Rocco and ritual spaces: San Rocco and the urban context; Venetian festivals and the church; music.
- San Rocco as an international pilgrimage site.
- Liturgy and devotional objects: (the reliquary of San Rocco, the miraculous Crucifix, the miraculous image of Christ Carrying the Cross; devotion to the Holy Eucharist); the Scuola’s printed images; the relationship with Venice’s other devotions for the plague, the Redentore and Madonna della Salute.
- The relationships between the Scuola and clergy: confraternal chaplains; the Franciscans of the Frari, and nearby parish churches (San Tomà and San Pantalon).
- The cult of San Rocco in Venetian territories: San Rocco and the lazzaretti; devotional images, churches and chapels dedicated to San Rocco in the Venetian state; the cult of San Rocco along the Adriatic coasts.