Santa Maria dei Servi

When the Servites arrived in Venice in 1314 they were a small religious community. Thanks to the immediate support they received from both the local authorities and population, they settled in the neighborhood of Cannaregio, in the parish once of San Marziale, where they build their first wooden oratory in 1316. In 1330 they began the foundation of their mother church, Santa Maria dei Servi, a monumental Gothic construction which extended for three quarters of the Servite island. Once completed around mid-sixteenth century, Santa Maria dei Servi could be compared for its architectural magnificence and its splendid furnishings to the main churches of the other Mendicant Orders, first and foremost the Dominican Santi Giovanni e Paolo and the Franciscan Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. What remains of the Servite Church today is a pale memory of its past grandeur. After the fall of the Republic of Venice and the subsequent Napoleonic suppressions, Santa Maria dei Servi was slowly torn down, its altars dismantled or sold in pieces, and all the paintings and sculpture either lost or disseminated in Venice or elsewhere.