It’s very easy to miss the Church of S. Maria Mater Domini in Venice; tucked away in a dark alley hiding its masterpiece by Tintoretto?
Who was Tintoretto?
Born in Venice in 1518, Tintoretto was the eldest of 21 children. He was destined to become one of the greatest artists of the Venetian School whose work is characterized by its muscular figures, dramatic gestures, and bold use of perspective in the Mannerist style. For his phenomenal energy in painting he was named Il Furioso; The Furious.
A Neglected Masterpiece?
Inside this small church is a painting by Tintoretto very few know about. His depiction of The Discovery of the True Cross is beautiful and sublime but was originally painted for the Scuola de la Croce, founded in 1561. The church of S. Maria Mater Domini however is much older, founded in the 10th century in Venice and has been altered several times over the centuries. In 1488 the porch of the church was sealed with boards to prevent homosexuals enjoying the pleasures of the flesh late at night. The church is not far from the famous Carampane neighbourhood, the ancient red light district of Venice.
The Story of the True Cross
Tradition has it that in the 4th century AD in Jerusalem, Helena, mother of Constantine (the first Roman emperor to embrace Christianity) found the cross on which Christ had been crucified. On the site of this discovery Helena had the Church of the Holy Sepulchre built. Today it is one of Christianity’s most holy sites.
The Church of S. Maria Mater Domini – Campo Santo Maria Mater Domini – open in the morning from 10.00 to midday and on Sunday from 17.00 to 19.00