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Il Redentore, more properly Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore (Church of the Most Holy Redeemer), is Andrea Palladio's great domed church on Giudecca, one of the islands of Venice. Located on the waterfront of the Canale della Giudecca, it dominates the skyline of the island.

The Redentore was built in thanksgiving for deliverance from the plague that decimated Venice from 1575 to 1576, in which some 46,000 people, 25-30 per cent of the population, died. The Senate commissioned the great architect Palladio to design it. Construction began in May 1577. The building was in a satisfactory stage and was consecrated in 1592.

Every year, the doge and senators walked across a specially constructed pontoon bridge from the Zattere to Giudecca and attended Mass in the church. The Festa del Redentore remains a major festival in the Venetian calendar, celebrated on the third Sunday in July. A huge firework display on the previous evening is followed by a mass procession across the pontoon bridge. The church has always been entrusted to the Capuchin friars, the youngest branch of the Franciscans, and about twenty now live in the attached convent.

Il Redentore has one of the most prominent sites of any of Palladio's structures, and is considered one of the pinnacles of his career. It is a large, white building with a dome crowned by a statue of the Redeemer. In the façade a central triangular pediment overlies a larger, lower one. The facade is reminiscent of Palladio's design for San Francesco della Vigna, and was to be a feature often repeated by other architects in the following two centuries. It has been suggested that there are some Turkish influences in the exterior. Certainly, the building is not classical in a narrowly defined sense of the term. As a pilgrimage church, the building was expected to have a long nave, which was something of a challenge for Palladio, with his commitment to classical architecture. The result is a somewhat eclectic building, the white stucco and gray stone interior combines the nave with a domed crossing in spaces that are clearly articulated yet unified. An uninterrupted Corinthian order makes its way around the entire interior.

The Redentore contains paintings by Francesco Bassano, Lazzaro Bastiani, Carlo Saraceni, Leandro Bassano, Palma the Younger, Jacopo Bassano, Francesco Bissolo, Rocco Marconi, Paolo Veronese, Alvise Vivarini and the workshop of Tintoretto. The sacristy also contains a series of wax heads of Franciscans made in 1710.




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