basilica minor of the Saints John and Paul

San Zanipolo (Twins)


A brief description.


In 1234, Doge Giacomo Tiepolo (+1249) donated some swampland to the Dominicans in Venice after dreaming of a flock of white doves flying over it to built an church and priory, dedicated to Saint John and Saint Paul, two brothers, twins (Zanipolo), and martyrs in Rome in 36,( and not to the two apostles).

The first church was demolished in 1333, when the current church was begun. It was built of rose-coloured material.  Its vast interior, designed by the Dominican architects Benvenuto da Bologna and Nicolò da Imola, for the large congregations of urban poor, was consecrated by Antonio Corrrer, O.P. bishop of Ceneda on 14 November 1430.  He belonged to the nobility and was a nephew of pope Gregor XII.

The priory was the site  of the 'scuola grande di San Marco' since 1437.

In 1458 the brotherhoods  of Saint Peter of Verona and Saint Catherine of Siena were founded. In 1573 the brotherhood of the Holy Virgin of the Rosary was founded with their seat in the Saint Dominic's chapel, beautified with paintings. In 1690 a new Saint Dominic's chapel was built, also the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.  


 As a burial place, it was favoured by noble families; a number of doges lie there, commemorated by richly wrought sepulchral monuments. There are many famous paintings, as well as the Madonna della Pace, a miraculous Byzantine statue situated in its own chapel in the south aisle, and a foot of St Catherine of Siena, the church's chief relic. In the chapel of the Mater Dolorosa the glass tomb with te relics of the blessed Augustine Fangi of Biella (1430-22.07.1493).


In 1806 the Dominicans had to leave the priory and the buildings were used as a military – and civilian hospital.  In 1810 the Dominicans regained their rights, but were obliged to  wear the clothing  of the diocesan priests. In the night of 15/15 August 1867 a fire demolished the chapel of the Rosary and 34 paintings got lost, among others the 'Martyrdom of Peter Martyr of Verona' by Tiziano Vecellio, painted for pope Pius V in 1557/68. and there to hang for restoration. Now it is a copy.


Copy of the 'Martyrdom of Saint Peter Martyr'

by Tiziano.


Sierra Leone 1988, Mi 1115, Sc 993.


In the three turrets  on the façade the statues of Saint  Thomas Aquinas, Saint Dominic andSaint  Peter of Verona. On the tops: the eagle  (Saint John Evangelist), the Heavenly Father and the lion (Saint Mark). 


In the church many paintings of notable artists:

Giovanni Bellini (SS Vincent Ferrer, Christopher and Sebastian in the south aisle);

Bartolomeo Bon (the great west doorway);

Cima da Conegliano or Giovanni Martini da Udine (Coronation of the Virgin in the south transept);

Piero di Niccolò Lamberti and Giovanni di Martino (tomb of Doge Tommaso Mocenigo in the north aisle); Pietro Lombardo (tombs of Doge Pietro Mocenigo on the west wall and Doges; Pasquale Malipiero and Nicolò Marcello in the north aisle; tomb of Alvise Diedo in the south aisle); Tullio Lombardo ( and Alessandro Leopardo?)(tomb of Doge Andrea Vendramin on the north wall of the choir);

Lorenzo Lotto (St Antonine in the south transept); Rocco Marconi (Christ between SS Peter and Andrew in the south transept); Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (St Dominic in Glory on the ceiling of the Capella di San Domenico);  

Veronese (The Assumption, The Annunciation and The Adoration of the Magi on the ceiling of the Capella del Rosario; The Adoration of the Shepherds in the Capella del Rosario); Alessandro Vittoria (St Jerome in the north aisle);

Alvise Vivarini (Christ carrying the Cross in the sacristy); Bartolomeo Vivarini (Three Saints in the north aisle);

The Capella del Rosario (Chapel of the Rosary), built in 1582 to commemorate the victory of Lepanto, contained paintings by Tintoretto, Palma the Younger, Titian and Giovanni Bellini, among others, but they were destroyed in a fire in 1867 attributed to anti-Catholic arsonists.


The vast interior contains many funerary monuments:

After the 15th century the funeral services of all of Venice's doges were held in San Zanipolo. Twenty-five doges are buried in the church, including:


Giacomo Tiepolo (d. 1249) ;Renier Zeno (d. 1268);

Lorenzo Baldissera Tiepolo (d. 1275); Giovanni Dolfin (d. 1361);

Marco Corner (d. 1368); Michele Morosini (d. 1382);

Antonio Venier (d. 1400); Michele Steno (d. 1413);

Tommaso Mocenigo (d. 1423); Pasquale Malipiero (d. 1462);

Nicolò Marcello (d. 1474); Pietro Mocenigo (d. 1476);

Andrea Vendramin (d. 1478); Giovanni Mocenigo (d. 1485);

Alvise Mocenigo (d. 1577); Sebastiano Venier (d. 1578);

Bertucci Valier (d. 1658); Silvestro Valier (d. 1700).


Other people buried in the church include:

Orazio Baglioni (d. 1617), general ;Gentile Bellini; Giovanni Bellini;

Gianbattista Bonzi (d. 1508), senatorBartolomeo Bragadin (poet);

Marcantonio Bragadin (d.1571), general flayed alive by the Turks -
 the tomb contains only his skin
; Jacopo Cavalli (d. 1384), general;

Alvise Diedo; Marco Giustiniani (d. 1346), sea captain;

Pompeo Giustiniani (d. 1616), condottiero; Leonardo da Prato (d.1511), condottiero;

Niccolò Orsini, general; Palma the Younger (d. 1628), artist;

Vettor Pisani (d. 1380), admiral; Alvise Trevisan (d. 1528);

Sir Edward Windsor (d. 1574).


Sources: Catholic Encyclopaedia.Online edition by Kevin Knight, 2003
               Wikipedia and others. 



                    Burundi 1971, Mi 822, Sc CB 24. >>>>


       Church of Saints John and Paul (detail) by
       Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal,


      <<<<<  Monaco 1971, Mi 1042, Sc 833.






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