The Church of Santa Maria della Fava is a rather modest looking place of worship in the famed San Marco sestiere of Venice, mostly due to the fact the facade was left unfinished. The official name of this church is Santa Maria della Consolazione, but locals refer to it with its surname which, in time, has given rise to a handful of legends or, in all cases, to accounts difficult to verify (deriving from the name of a family, the name of a canal or bridge, or even from a pastry shop selling, back then, bean-shaped delights, or, furthermore, from a story of a salt thief who was miraculously saved from imprisonment by the Virgin).

The general lines of the present church were delineated in the 18th century. A former wooden place of worship dating back to the 15th century used to fill the site, and after centuries of attempts to convince the authorities of the necessity of reconstructing the church, Antonio Gaspari was eventually commissioned to redesign the edifice. The works progressed too slowly, such that the mid 18th century saw the building unfinished, Giorgio Massari being the successor of Antonio Gaspari to the work.

While the exterior, as said, is rather discouraging, the interior does feature certain notable highlights, the unchallenged attraction being the Education of the Virgin by Tiepolo (one of the artist’s best works from his early creation period), a work once (almost) stolen from the church by two clumsy thieves, in 1993. Works by Piazetta (who, for that matter, is buried here), by Giuseppe Bernardi and of Morleiter are scattered throughout the church: statues of saints, evangelists and angels, as well as paintings.

Another intriguing item refers to an old miracle working icon of the Virgin with Baby Jesus (the very icon which is said to have worked miracles even from before the construction of the present church, formerly sheltered in the wooden place of worship). It is worth studying, if not for artistic reasons, at least for the historical references made to it.

Church of Santa Maria della Fava (Chiesa di Santa Maria della Fava / Santa Maria della Consolazione)
San Marco, Venice, Italy
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