Oratory of the Order of the Crociferi, Cannaregio

About the project

The Oratory was built as part of a hostel for pilgrims and the sick at the time of the Crusades in the 12-13th century. It later became almshouses for elderly widows in the early 15th century and retains its 15th century layout and structure. It is close to the open lagoon at the Fondamente Nove and because of this suffered extensive damage in the 1966 floods and was then virtually abandoned until it was proposed as an urgent conservation project by UNESCO.

In collaboration with the owners, the charitable foundation, IRE (Istituzione di Ricovero e di Educazione) which itself contributed funds, an international committee was set up by Venice in Peril. It included the Swedish Committee which contributed to the structural work while the Dutch Committee funded the conservation of the wooden stalls with the Texan ‘Friends of Venice’ also contributing. A floodwater control tank was constructed under the Oratory floor, which was relaid using the traditonal pastellon technique. The walls were rebuilt to a height of ten feet and the roof was renewed at the same time as all the architectural ornament was cleaned and restored.

The chief glory is its cycle of eight paintings by Jacopo Palma the Younger, begun in 1583 and completed in 1592, which tells the story of the Order of the Crociferi from its founding by Pope Anacletus to provide for pilgrims and the sick. The main cycle and ceiling paintings were conserved by the Venice Superintendency and funded by the Ministry of Culture.

Project location

In brief

  • Exposed to the lagoon at the Fondamente Nove just to the north, the Oratoio was badly damaged in the 1966 floods.
  • An international Crociferi Committee was set up in 1982-84 comprising the Swedish, Dutch and Dallas (Texas) Funds for Venice as well as Venice in Peril.
  • The restoration was inaugurated by HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1984.
  • For details of how to visit the Oratorio dei Crociferi

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