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San Zaccaria

 

Castello Church with the last Madonna painted by Giovanni Bellini (in 1505)

LINK to Maps of Venice

 

Most visitors to San Zaccaria nowadays go there to see Giovanni Bellini's last and most beautiful Madonna (below), painted in 1505 and recently restored. 

 

Back in 1505 your visitors might well have been slipping in to the adjoining rich and famously licentiousness Benedictine convent, parts of which can still be seen around the campanile.

 

You might also have witnessed the strange sight of a man crawling around the well outside the church roaring like a lion.  He would have been a bridegroom to be.  The activity stemmed from a legend about the devil, in the guise of a handsome young man, trying to make off with the bride of one Sebastiano Morosini on a long ago Michaelmas morning.  A spell cast by the devil stopped Sebastiano drawing his sword, but did not prevent him falling to his hands and knees, crawling around, and roaring.  Whereupon the devil, thinking he was being attacked by the lion of San Marco, fled.   And for a long long time after that, it was known that happiness and faith in wedlock could be assured by the bridegroom doing a roaring turn around the wellhead.

A 1622 Crucifixion by Anthony van Dyck A 1385 Madonna by Stefano da S Agnese

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