The ceiling frescoes of the Church of San Francesco

The ceiling frescoes of the Church of San Francesco by Michelangelo Schiavoni

The decoration of the Church of St Francesco, a work of an extremely refined expressive and ornamental nature was requested by the patron Domenico Cestari, fervent supporter of the two monastic orders present in the church for over 400 years – those of the Franciscans present in Chioggia for over a hundred years from the end of the 1300s and then subsequently that of the Benedictine Cistercian nuns who arrived at the beginning of the 1700s.
Creator of this pictorial suite is the Chioggia's Michele Schiavoni who, between the ceiling frescos by Giacomo Gaspari, narrates over eight monochrome side panels and three brightly coloured central panels, the life and religious journeys of St Francesco and St Benedict. The four norther panels illustrate in tempera, beginning from the entrance to the church, some moments from the life of St Francis :'The Cross Speaking to the Saint' - ' The Young Monk Before the Sultan in Morocco' - ' The Ailing Saint' - “The Death of the Saint on the Bare Rock'. The other symmetrical panels regard the stories of St Benedict: 'The Saint Excorcising a Mad Person' - 'Benedict resists Temptation' – 'The Saint Saves a Child from a Fire' – 'The Surrender of Totilla Before the Saint'.
Of particular effectiveness are three large polychrome compartments, painted by the same artist in tempera on dry plaster: “St Francis and the Stigmata' – 'The Glory of the Holy Trinity' in the centre, remarkable for the candid colour of the robes of Faith, the green of Hope and the red of Charity.The last circular piece shows 'St Benedict Welcoming a Knight'. On the eight rib vaults connecting the ceiling and the walls are represented the Virtues – Prudence, Strength, Justice and Temperance in the northern part. On the opposite side are Science, Chastity, Praise and Humility, each with their own iconographic attributes.


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