Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

A year after the death of St. Francis, in 1227, some of his most faithful follwers came to Venice, where they lived on alms and passed the days working in the vestibules of the churches, particularly those of St. Lawrence and St. Silvester. The government gave them an old abandoned Benedictine monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary to live in which was situated on the borders of the two parishes of “S.Tomà” (St. Thomas) and “S. Stin” (St. Stephen the Confessor). The fathers expanded the the convent at various times with the help of the faithful, and after 1250 they built a magnificent church called St. Mary the Glorious (later called the “Frari” from a corruption of Frati due to the numerous religious community that it housed) to a design by Nicolò da Pisa. It seems to have been rebuilt into its present form in the 15th century, and it is certain that it was consecrated in 1492 by Pietro di Trani, the Bishop of Telesino. The Bell Tower was begun in 1361 by Jacopo Celega and was finished in 1396 by his son Pietro Paolo. The convent is vast, and was renovated after the fire of 1369, in which perished the blessed Carissimo da Chioggia; later it was decorated with two cloisters, one by Palladio, the other by Sansovino. Many notable men came from there, among them Francesco Dalla Rovere, who became Pope Sixtus IV, and Felice Peretti, later Sixtus V. In the 14th century it was also home to the Court of the Inquisition. At the time of the suppression of the religious orders, the Church of St. Mary the Glorious of the “Frari” became the seat of a parish which was made up of the surrounding parishes of St. Thomas and St. Stephen the Confessor, then suppressed, and in 1815 the convent, along with the convent and church of S. Nicolò della Lattuga and the School of St. Anthony, was converted into the Archive, which is still in use today.

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