che nasce da un'antica leggenda
The history of the island of Sant’Elena originates from an ancient legend, according to which the ship carrying the relics of Saint Helena from Constantinople, upon entering the lagoon, ran aground in shallow waters near the island of Olivolo off the coast of St. Pietro di Castello. In an effort to keep the boat afloat the crew was forced to unload the heavy cargo on the nearby island, including the urn with the relics of the Saint. Once the urn was put aboard, the boat got stuck again. The sailors considered this mysterious phenomenon a sign that the saint wanted to be left on the deserted island.
The urn was not abandoned, and in 1028 AC the friars of the Augustinian Order erected the first chapel dedicated to the Saint, followed by the convent and a church. In 1400 AC the Olivetan Benedictine monks took over from the Augustines and in 1439 AC built the church and convent that can still be admired today. Over the years the convent was often used as a shelter. In 1810 the church was deconsecrated and used as a warehouse, and all the church belongings were sold by Napoleon in order to fill the army’s coffers. In the 1800s it was used as a vacation resort by the admirals of the Royal Navy. In 1920 the sandbar surrounding the island , once used as army training camp, was reclaimed and converted into urban spaces, hence marking the birth of Sant’Elena as we know it today, an area connected by 3 bridges to the main island where the original church was erected.
In 1930 the church was reopened and entrusted to the Order of the Servants of Mary. The relics of the Saint were brought back to the church and the large gate, dating back from the Renaissance, portraying Major Cappello kneeling in front of the Saint was also restored to its original location.
During the same period the Order of the Mantellate Sisters purchased the convent to create the Institute Santa Giovanna Falconieri, a private school housing a kindergarten on the ground floor, an elementary school on the first floor, a middle school on the second and lodgings on the top floor. The institute had a well known and highly regarded reputation in Venice, but with the opening of public schools and the dramatic decrease in the number of students, the Sisters became unable to afford the expenses. During the following years they continued offering accommodation to pilgrims travelling to Venice but eventually were forced to shut down the establishment.
The Hotel Sant’Elena officially opened in 1999-2000 after an ambitious restoration aiming at the reorganization of the internal partitions and rooms’ layout, while preserving the historical and architectural features of the external façade, the pillars of the inner porch and the courtyard of the former cloister.
The Hotel has been managed by the same owners since 2005; in November of the same year the Hotel Sant’Elena joined the iconic Best Western group as a Premier property, the excellence range of the brand. “Valentine’s”, the Hotel’s restaurant, opened its door in 2007 and immediately became its jewel in the crown, earning a coveted spot in Italy’s most prestigious restaurant guide “Gambero Rosso”.