The Church of San Simeone Piccolo is literally the first thing you see upon exiting the Santa Lucia train station in Venice. A quick trip across the Grand Canal will put you right at the steps of this comparatively small but no less meaningful piece of history.
Built between 1718 and 1738, San Simeone is an amalgamation of architectural styles from several periods of history. The exterior façade for instance, resembles the ancient Roman Pantheon, while the massive dome at the top is much more reminiscent of a Byzantine style church like St. Mark’s.
Inside the building however, is a distinctly Renaissance inspired design, albeit with a few significant differences. San Simeone was actually one of the last churches to be built in Venice during this period. This fact is shown by the church’s comparatively small amount of embellishment. The architectural glory days of the Renaissance were coming to an end, and there wasn’t enough time, money, or interest available to decorate the church as heavily as its more popular counterparts.
But that certainly hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the most memorable and recognizable structures in the entire city. If location really is everything, then The Church of San Simeone has it all. And for those who look a little closer than the average tourist, you’ll discover that church is still an active community today. In fact, it’s one of the very few churches in Italy that is currently operated by Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), a society of Apostolic Life dedicated to offering the Mass according the 1962 Roman Missal.
It’s a historical Mass offered in a historical shrine. As far as authenticity goes, it doesn’t get much better than that.