Built between 1481 and 1489 by Pietro Lombardo to house a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary. The plans for the church were expanded in 1484 to include the construction of a new convent for nuns of St. Clare to the east. The convent was connected to the gallery of the church by an enclosed walkway that was later destroyed.
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A competition was held to design the building. Of the eleven submissions (including designs by Alessandro Varotari, Matteo Ignoli, and Berteo Belli), only two were chosen for the final round. The architect Baldassare Longhena was selected to design the new church. It was finally completed in 1681 the year before Longhena's death.
In 829, The body of St. Mark was transported from Alexandria, Egypt to Venice (Doge Giustiniano Partecipazio).