Vodnjan - Dignano
Churches and Cemeteries


Church of Saint Blaise

The Church of St. Blaise was constructed in the last decade of the 18th century. It was built on a Latin cross plan, with three naves, a central apse, a large presbytery and a neo-Baroque facade.  It was consecrated in 1808. The Church of St. Peter of Castello in Venice, which was designed by Andrea Palladio in 1580, was used as a model for its construction.  Above the tympanum of the main facade there are five towering statues of the saints:  St. Blaise with St. Peter and St. Lawrence to the right, and St. Paul and St. Quirinius to the left.

Construction of the belltower, which is 60 meters high, began in 1815. It was built according to the design of the architect Antonio Porta from Trieste, and was finished only in 1883.

The Veronese painter Gaetano Gresler enriched the church with his frescos in 1818.  The main altar displays two marble angels by Francesco Terilli of Feltre, from 1616.  On the choir to the left of the altar, there is a Last Supper painted by G. Contarini in 1598.

The church has preserved another Last Supper, painted by G. Ventura in 1518, as well as a painting of the Holy Patrons that hangs in the upper part of the apse.There is also a "Pala" of St. Joseph, which was restored in 1937.It originated in another church, also named St. Joseph, which was deconsecrated in 1807. In addition, there is a work called, "A Conversation Between St. Francis and Sts. Peter and Paul," which the great Tamaro thought to be by Palma, and various tapestries from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The elegant tabernacle in the late Gothic style, which is located on the wall of the transept to the left, is from 1451 and comes from an older, Medieval church.

In the treasury of sacred artifacts preserved by the church there is also a precious tablet from the 1300s. This is the lid of the sarcophagus that held the remains of the Beat. Leone Bembo, the Bishop of Methonensis, who lived sometime between the 13th and 14th centuries.

St. Blaise, interior

Paolo Veneziano:  Beat. Leone Bembo, detail.

The tablet's wooden panels shows images of the holy man.  In each corner there are representations of Bembo's miraculous deeds. There are some other precious paintings which are today relegated to the upper chambers of the building.

Today the mummified body of the Beat. Bembo rests in the church, together with the body of St. John Olini, who died in 1300, and that of St. Nicolosa of Capodistria, who died in 1512. See: The Phenomenon of Vodnjan.

To the south of Dignano, in the direction of Fasana, is located the romantic chapel of St. Roch, the third patron saint of the city.

Chapel of St. Roche

This chapel, shaded by cypresses, was built in the 17th century.  It has an elegant Venetian-style facade in an oddly pale pink that curves sweetly into a narrow arch with two spires that rise to either side of it.  The fixed arch above the entrance seems to be left over from a pre-existing Gothic structure. At the highest point of the arch, a base holds the statue of the patron saint.  Today it still has its little bell gable (campanile a vela), though without its bell.


  • Text and drawing: Alberi, Dario. Istria - Storia, Arte, Cultura. Edizioni LINT (Trieste, 1997), pagina 1677-1682.
  • Translation (Italian to English): Aaron Gillies
  • Photographs: St. Biagio, Michael Plass; St. Biagio interior, Leone Bembo and St. Rocco, reprinted from the book Geistige Itinerarien in und um Vodnjan, Edizione 'Libar od Grozda', Pola 1995, for the "Ente Turistico della Comune di Dignano"; Ennio Forlani, Armando Debeljuh, Elis Barbalich-Geromella.
  • Photograph - Emil Marceta

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This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran, Michael Plass and Aaron Gillies

 Created: Wednesday, March 19, 2003; Last updated: Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Copyright 1998 IstriaNet.org, USA