Since 1328 there was a Benedictine monastery at Giudecca called Santa Croce. At the end of the 15th century the plague claimed thousands of victims also in Venice. The disease reached the monastery, killing four nuns. Abbess of the monastery was Sister Eufemia Giustiniani, but the protagonist of this legend was the nun porter, Sister Scolastica.
One day she saw a mysterious knight appear beyond the grate that separated that corner of peace from the rest of the world. The unknown visitor expressed his faith in God and praise to the abbess of the monastery. He asked for a glass of water which the nun immediately offered. Impressed by the nun’s generosity, the knight urged her to have faith. Then he predicted that no nun would be more affected by the terrible disease. The mysterious knight was identified with St. Sebastian (Protector against the plague) and the source of that water considered miraculous.
When in 1576 the plague came back to reap the people of Venice, hundreds of people who believed in the legend of the spring, crowded in front of the monastery, asking to drink the water from the well of St. Sebastian. To give everyone a chance to drink the miraculous water, a wall was even knocked down and a pipe was built to pump water from the well outwards.
The Well of St. Sebastian never dried up and often farmers came from the mainland to draw water that was estimated to be a very effective way to heal even the cattle during epidemics.
Over time the monastery became a house of correction. In the space occupied by the Judicial Prisons at Giudecca there is still the church and in the cloister the Well of St. Sebastian, reserved for prisoners.
Location: Giudecca, Venice