Chiesa di San Sebastiano

Church in Dorsoduro

Antonio Scarpignano’s relatively austere 1508–48 facade creates a sense of false modesty at this neighbourhood church. The interior is adorned with floor-to-ceiling masterpieces by Paolo Veronese, executed over three decades. According to popular local legend, Veronese found sanctuary at San Sebastiano 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.

The church has undergone extensive restoration, with most of the work unveiled in early 2018. The Veronese works, as well as the gleaming facade, look better than ever.

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, although 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 San Nicolò (1563) to the right of the entry. Peek into the sacristy to glimpse Veronese's glowing Coronation of the Virgin (1555) on the ceiling.


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