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Chiesa di San Sebastian information
A hidden treasure of Venetian art in the heart of Dorsoduro, this otherwise humble neighbourhood church was embellished with floor-to-ceiling masterpieces by Paolo Veronese over three decades. Antonio Scarpignano’s relatively austere 1508–48 facade creates a sense of false modesty from the outside, because inside, the restored interior decor goes wild.
According to popular local legend, Veronese found sanctuary at San Sebastian in 1555 after fleeing murder charges in Verona, and his works in this church deliver lavish thanks to the parish and an especially brilliant poke in the eye of his accusers. Veronese's virtuosity is everywhere here, from the horses rearing on the coffered ceiling to organ doors covered with his Presentation of the Virgin . In Veronese’s Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian near the altar, the bound saint defiantly stares down his tormentors amid a Venetian crowd of socialites, turbaned traders and Veronese’s signature frisky spaniel. St Sebastian was the fearless patron saint of Venice's plague victims, and Veronese suggests that, though sticks and stones may break his bones, Venetian gossip couldn't kill him.
Pay respects to Veronese, who chose to be buried here underneath his masterpieces – his memorial plaque is to the right of the organ – but don’t miss Titian’s 1563 San Niccolo to the right of the entry. Peek into the sacristy to glimpse Veronese's 1555 Coronation of the Virgin on the ceiling – it's recently been restored with American funds, and positively glowing.