1111The "talking" Christ in the Church of San Francesco della Vigna A "talking" wooden XV century Christ re-emerges from the Church of San Francesco della Vigna, Castello, Venice. It had been for immemorable time hung on to a wall in the atrium adjacent to the Church and the library, close to the monk's cells. Until, recently, some researchers have found this extraordinary piece of art and have given the go ahead for its complex and delicate restauration, thanks to Save Venice (https://savevenice.org/), the american committee whose mission is to (privately) contribute to the conservation of Venice's heritage.
The extraordinary discovery lays in the fact that a special mechanism had been built inside Christ's mouth and could be managed during procession so as to have the impression that the sculpture was effectively "talking"; in this way, more prayers and invocations were voiced.
Besides this curious mechanism, it is a very fine sculpture (the author is anonymous) where Christ's anatomy is perfectly modelled. The restoration work will hopefully allow a better understanding of the author.
The Church of San Francesco della Vigna in Castello was initially built in 1534 by Francesco Sansovino and is one of the most beautiful Renaissance churches in Venice. It was completed twenty years after and at the end of the following decade the magnificent façade was realized, designed by Andrea Palladio. It hosts extraordinary paintings such as the "Virgin and Child on the Throne" by Antonio Negroponte, a true masterpiece, the only known work of Negroponte, and the "Virgin with Child, Saints and Donors" by Giovanni Bellini. Until mid '300, the Church and the Convent were dedicated to Saint Mark; only afterwards they were named after San Francesco. The original gothic church was demolished in the first half of the XVI century to make room for today's church. To the first, primitive convent, with a simple cloister near the church was then attached a grand XV century convent made of three cloisters; a major one with arches and colunms all around, one side of which faced the lagoon; two minor ones on the churche's sides.
During the Napoleon period the convent was converted into a barrack and only in 1836 the monks were allowed to go back in. Here always remained, on the wall, the "Corpus Cristi" ora now being restored and which will be certaibly given a more dignified collocation in the Church when ready to be admired again by the public.
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