La Chiesa di Redentore (Church of the Redeemer). Click on images to enlarge them.

In the second volume of The Stones of Venice, Ruskin claims that two Venetian churches built to commemorate the end of bubonic plague epidemics — Santa Maria della Salute and Il Redentore — show the relative importance of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ in Italian Catholicism: Turning from the Salute, he directs the reader’s attention to another, smaller church “on the opposite side of the broad canal of the Giudecca . . . celebrated among Renaissance architects as of Palladian design, but which would hardly attract the notice of the general observer” — the Redentore or Redeemer. He asks the reader “carefully to compare these two buildings with each other, the one built ‘to the Virgin,’ the other ‘to the Redeemer’ (also a votive offering after the cessation of the plague of 1576): the one, the most conspicuous church in Venice, its dome, the principal one by which she is first discerned, rising out of the distant sea; the other, small and contemptible, on a suburban island, and only becoming an object of interest because it contains three small pictures! For in the relative magnitude and conspicuousness of these two buildings, we have an accurate index of the relative importance of the ideas of the Madonna and of Christ, in the modern Italian mind” (10.443).

More of Ruskin's Venice

Photographs 2020. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Ruskin, John. The Works. Ed. E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn. “The Library Edition.” 39 vols. London: George Allen, 1903-1912.

Last Modified 26 March 2020