The Scuola Grande di San rocco is one of the six Scuole Grandi that have been in the city for centuries.
It started in 1478 to help poors and sicks, especially during outbreaks of the plague.
San Rocco, or St. Rock (1296-1327), was born in France and spent his life looking after palgue sufferers. It is said that during his stay in Piacenza he too became ill yet managed to survive. Hovewer, when he returned home he was so thin and looked so terrible that nobody recognised him and he was imprisoned, Only his faithful dog kept him company. This is why St. Rock is often represented with a small dog. In 1485 his body was moved to Venice and he became one of the protectors of the city, His feast day is still celebrated on August 16th every year and the "tendon del doge", a sort of large canopy, is erected in the campo.
The Scuola di San Rocco was built between 1489 and 1549, but its present look is the result of alterations that have taken place over the years.
When the building was completed, the brothers lauched a competition to find a painter to decorate the rooms. The participants had to submit a sketch (a rough outline of the general idea) of St. Rock acending into heaven.
He submitted a finished painting claiming that it was his way of making a sketch and, to cap it all, he gave the paiting to the school as a present. Needless to say, he won teh competition!
Free Walk in Venice by Isola Tour loves the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.