The Art of Salvation
his Ninety-Five Theses, Martin Luther challenged the teachings
of the Roman Catholic Church on penance and papal authority.
In response, the Council of Trent reaffirmed traditional
doctrine and decreed that through clarity, simplicity, and
intelligibility, art should instruct and confirm the faithful
in their beliefs and stimulate piety, devotion, and
Scuola di Santi Maria e Girolamo
Rejected as “un-Biblical” by the Reformers, the belief in Purgatory was defended in the
ceiling of the “Brotherhood of the Hanged”.
In “The Art of Salvation”,
you'll enter a world of spiritual rebirth and seething
political and social tensions where you'll glory in the great
works of Venice's Reformation painters and follow the intense
theological debates that determined their creation.
Throughout the visit, you'll also see Venice face the first
signs of its economic decline and struggle to maintain its
trading relations with the Protestant cities while
simultaneously repressing internal dissent and seeking the
support of the Papacy in its ongoing wars against the Ottoman
day will begin at the stately Church of Saint Nicholas of
Tolentine and the onset of the Protestant Reformation when the
cries of “Solus Christus” and “Sola Scriptura” first
echoed throughout Europe and shattered the Christian world.
We'll talk about the abuses and corruption in the Church that
gave rise to these two fundamental Protestant beliefs and
about the international tensions that favored the spread of
the Reformation and made Venice the hope of the Italian
evangelicals. As we visit the gilded and
marble-encrusted church, you'll also learn about Rome's own
attempts to reform and discover how architecture could be
manipulated to serve religious ends. At the Great School
of Saint Roch, Tintoretto's art will then show you the full
potential of religious imagery to transcend the spoken word
and reach out to the faithful through the power of emotion.
As his canvases unfold around us and explain the mysteries of
salvation, we'll talk about the charitable acts performed by
the Confraternity of Saint Roch and follow the great
Reformation debate surrounding “Sola fide”. We'll
also discover the importance of Venice's lay brotherhoods in
controlling dissidents and hear instead how Venice came to
deal secretly with the most radical of the Reformers.
We'll then reach the tiny Church of Saint Sebastian where the
walls glow with the rich coloring of Veronese's paintings.
We'll hear of this devout artist's trial for heresy before
Venice's Holy Inquisition and see how the resurgent social
ambitions of artistic patrons came to be reconciled with the
new spirituality of the Church. Gazing
upward to the radiant ceiling paintings that narrate the story
of the Biblical Queen Esther, we'll then learn how the Church defended
the continued veneration of the Virgin Mother of God and
responded to the Protestant cry of “Soli Deo gloria”.
Our final destination is the meeting hall of the “Brotherhood of the
Hanged” where pious laymen gathered to pray for executed
criminals. Here, Palma Giovane's Purgatory cycle looms
fatefully overhead. As we watch the repentant souls
emerge from the purging flames and ascend to their final
glory, we'll see how the last painter of Venice's Golden Age
responded to the Protestant tenet of “Sola gratia” and
reaffirmed instead the Church's traditional belief in merit
obtained through acts of devotion.
“The Virgin with Saints Sebastian, Peter, Catherine, and Francis” (detail)
Chiesa di san Sebastiano
The veneration of the Virgin Mary slowly became a dividing line between Catholics
and Protestants, despite the many political, economic, and social
Approximately 6 hours
Church of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine
School of the “Brotherhood of the Hanged” - works by Palma Giovane (private visit)
Great School of Saint Roch - works by Tintoretto
Church of Saint Sebastian - works by Veronese
Reformation art: fresh images for a timeless faith
Mannerism: the visualization of power and the individual
Baroque architecture: to the Church's everlasting glory
Musical reform: the emotion of song
The “Five Solas”: the essentials of the Protestant creed
The Papacy: Venice's cumbersome ally
Anti-trinitarians, Anabaptists, and Millenarians: the enemies within
Jesuits, Theatines, and Barnabites: spiritual renewal and the threat of dissent
The European apocalypse: from the Peasants' Revolt to the Thirty Years' War
material protected by copyright
of the Venetian Renaissance
timeline with the lives and principle religious works of the great
Venetian masters and their Italian contemporaries along with the
Venetian doges and wars, the popes, emperors, rulers of Milan,
Florence, Mantua, and Ferrara, and the religious and humanistic
milestones of the Renaissance
This guided walking tour is not available on Saturday and Sunday.
PRICE AND SPECIAL NOTE
The price indicated
for this guided walking tour is intended to cover the costs of the Society's continued research initiatives and
organization and is in compliance with the conditions concerning the activities of non-profit organizations as set
forth in the Ministry of Finance Unified Code Article 148, paragraph
3 (T.U. Art. 148, comma 3).
Price: 320.00 (U.S.
dollars) for two (2) persons. Each additional adult
costs $60.00. Minors under the age of 18 cost
Special note: The private visit to the School of the
“Brotherhood of the Hanged” cannot be confirmed prior to arrival
To help make this guided walking tour a culturally enriching and educational experience,
these books are recommended.
The Art of Salvation
“Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin have arrived in
Venice! They have lived here for some time, not in person but in a more intense presence – in their
thoughts, ideas, beliefs and theology – an invasion incapable of being
thwarted by barricades or bunkers.
Venice, the holy city, “Sancta Civitas”, is no longer “La Serenissima”.
It can never remain that. The isolated geography that stopped the barbarians of the
6th century is no match for the invasion of “Grace Alone”, “Scripture Alone”,
“Faith Alone”. Yes, some of the populace of Venice begin reflecting on these new ideas, and the Papacy –
often at odds with Venice over the centuries – makes its call to arms. The
generals are the Catholic artists whose brushwork, designs, and concepts on
the ceilings and walls of “scuole” and churches bring forth the doctrines
of Mary, Tradition, good works, and … the correctness of Catholicism.
At the same time, in the shadows of the city comes forth the Inquisition to
ensure that the populace as well as the artist-generals understand the correct message.
This guided tour is NOT about the correctness of any doctrine. There are no right or wrong answers or
observations. This is a tour of the history, the art, the people, the ideas,
and the responses to forces alive in Venice during a certain time. The discussions and observations are
thoughtful, reflective, and engrossing. At the end of this lengthy tour with its numerous visits, you will desire more
and more. Your visits are to churches, “scuole” – even a private one – and the city of Venice itself. Perfect.”
Vernon and Gloria Fairchild
Cape Coral, Florida
“Totally unique among the available tours of Venice!
“The Art of Salvation” shows the uses of art to educate, inspire, and persuade
in the battle for hearts and minds that shaped up as the Reformation.
We started our walk looking at Catholic orthodoxy in the Theatine church.
But we then discovered how Venice responded in very Venetian ways
to the ideas of the Reformation. Each of the stops on this tour is a masterwork,
including two scuolae and the utterly stunning San Sebastian.
But now we know why the artists were painting – not just what they were
painting. Highly, highly recommended!”
Palo Alto, California
“The tour helped me understand the issues of the Reformation through the work of
the artists in Venice. The five main solae, the teachings of the
Protestant Reformation — “Scripture Alone”, “Faith Alone”, “Grace Alone”, “Christ Alone”, and “Glory
to God Alone” — had implications for
what art portrayed. The response of the Catholic artists was
powerful. I found my understanding deepen and my appreciation grow
during this wonderful tour.”
New York, New York
For further information about this unique guided walking tour, write to: