San Francesco del Deserto

Silence and prayer: the Venetian island of spirituality

Silence reigns supreme on the island of San Francesco del Deserto; a warm and peaceful silence. A convent of Friars Minor, dedicated to prayer and contemplation, has sat on this strip of land in the Venetian Lagoon since the 13th century.

At that time, the island belonged to the noble Michiel family. According to tradition, it was donated by the family to the Friars Minor after St Francis had found refuge there on his return from the Orient. The friars remained there until the 1400s, when they were forced to abandon their monastery due to the unhealthy conditions of this area of the Lagoon. The departure of the friars left the island deserted (which is where the name San Francesco del Deserto comes from) until at least 1858, when, after being used for a short time as an Austrian powder depot, it was returned to the Diocese of Venice, which entrusted it to the care of the same Friars Minor to whom it was given in the Middle Ages.

Today, the rhythms of the convent govern the days on the island, which begin with Matins at 6.45 a.m. and finish with Compline at 9.00 p.m.. Worshippers and visitors are welcome every day from 9.00 to 11.00 a.m. and from 3.00 to 5.00 p.m. (except on 17 September, the day of celebration of the Stigmata of St Francis, and 4 October, the Feast of St Francis).

Those reaching the island - to get to San Francesco you have to land on Burano and book a transfer with a private company - will be accompanied on a free guided tour with donations welcome.

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