Convent of San Francesco of the Desert

San Francesco in Isola - vedutaSouth of the Island of Burano, on one of the most beautful islands in the lagoon, lies the convent of San Francesco (St Francis) del Deserto.  It was founded by the Desert Fathers on the date in 1220 when it is traditionally accepted that San Francis of Assisi, on his return from Egypt, stayed in the convent.

This may or may not be true but what is certain is that in 1228, the patrician Jacopo Michiel, owner of the island, agreed with St Anthony of Padua to erect a church in St Francis’ name.  It is the first church to be named after the saint.
Michiel, in March 1233, gave the island to the Minor Franciscan Brothers who inhabited the Frari convent in Venice.  There, on the island,  they built a convent.

The name – St Francis of the Desert - refers to the state of deterioration of the island, two centuries later, and which drove the brothers to abandon it.
In 1453 Pope Pius II conceded the island to the Minori Osservanti Brothers who restored the church and convent and built a Renaissance cloister. Forty years later, Pope Clement VIII installed the Minori Riformati Brothers who remained there until 1806 when the repressions of the Napoleonic years forced them to leave and take shelter in the San Bonaventura Convent in Venice.  In the anti-religious years that follone, the convent, made up of 31 monks cells, became an arms deposit and military barracks.

In 1856 the Austrian Emporer Francesco I gave the island to Venice’s Patriarch who then gave it to the Minor Franciscan Brothers who had left it more than 600 years previously.  Restoration followed from 1856 which uncovered apses in the oratory and the ancient foundations of the first church.

The island, not on any public transport routes, can only be reached by private boat.
Useful information:

Entrance: donations accepted
Address: Isola di San Francesco del Deserto cap 30100 - Venezia
Telephone: (+39)0415286863
Boat line Actv: Only private boat  


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