The ancient building information is provided to us by some of the most prominent of the city's history.
This is Christopher Sabbadino hydraulic engineer (1481-1560), to waters of very severe proto Venetian magistracy, the historian Peter Morari (end '500-1652), the future Bishop of Koper, the historian and artist John Fleming Grevembroch (XVII ), a very wide service of Senator Pietro Gradenigo, uncle of Bishop Augustin Gradenigo, who in 1767 used three of his drawings to illustrate his "Serie de Podesta Chiozza," Professor Aristide Naccari (1848-1914), indefatigable investigator in the history of 'city art and attentive witness of his time. Thanks to their research findings and the products and designs we are fortunately able to rebuild, even with the criterion of verisimilitude, the appearance outside and inside the ancient sacred building dedicated to the cult of St. James the Apostle, and since 1806, also that of the "Madonna of the Navicella" which culminated in 1859 with his coronation in 1906 and the building with the attribution of the title of pontifical basilica minor by SS Pius X.
The origin of the ancient church vicar of St. James the Apostle, directed by the Chapter of the Cathedral until the establishment of the parish, came through the Napoleonic decree of 8 February 1809, presumably to be found in the eleventh century, when the City after the destruction suffered by the Franks (810) and Hungarians (900), began to create their own economic fortune thanks to the production and trade of salt. The building, flirty style so popular in the Byzantine basilica, Pomposa and especially in nearby Ravenna, has a rectangular plan with an apse to the east, facing the Canal Vena, and the facade, the old "Plathea , which leads through three doors surmounted by a portico.
The interior is quite low, lit from side windows, was divided into three naves, produced by two series of columns made of brick, with semicircular arches that supported the main body of the factory. The nave, which rose quite a bit on both sides, was separated from the chancel, raised from the floor, with an iconostasis supported by eight columns, the center of which stood a wooden cross type giottesco, sometimes accompanied by a series of small statues. The presbytery, semicircular, housed the altar, raised by some steps and protected by a roof supported by four marble columns. It was enriched by the presence of certain artistic works: on the north side, next to the portrait of Bishop Antonio Grassi, was depicted the beheading of St. James, while the southern one was located on an Adoration of the Magi. Above the main door frame had been placed on the organ, housed in an elegant wooden stand, while the outer wall of the facade was painted with an image of Madonna. The floor, originally made of baked bricks laid in a herringbone pattern, was later paved with white and red marble quadrelloni.
In the early eighteenth century the church was equipped with several altars treated by many lay associations, schools of crafts (fraglie "), brotherhoods of devotion. They were the altars of Sant'Egidio, which is under the administration of Botteri, abbot of St. Anthony, patron of the porters, of St. Joseph, relevant to the masons and carpenters, of Santa Maria Maddalena, curated by the School of Pius Suffrage Souls in Purgatory of St. Mark the Evangelist, reserved for the guild of shoemakers, of San Giuliano, chaired by shipwrights; of Saint Lucia, managed by the brotherhood, of San Bartolomeo, operated by the Association of Christian Doctrine. I
The whole complex was not in good conditions, and restoration work carried out until the first decades of the eighteenth century had sought only to limit the damage that had affected not only the sanctuary but also the load-bearing walls. The disaster occurred during the night between 24 and 25 November 1741, consisting in the collapse of the apse, was the last that affected the old building, so as to induce the authorities to fully rebuild.
The design of the building bears the signature of the Venetian Pietro Skins (Leather), chosen among the various competitors in the contest organized by the Congregation for the building of the cathedral presided over by the Mayor of Chioggia Bartolomeo Gradenigo. The Skins, "Murer of Venice," presented a model accompanied by drawings that was exposed for a month, from March to April 1742, public scrutiny. Ten years later the same foreman, more than sixty years old, did succeed in his assignment grandson Dominic, who directed the work until the end of the Temple. The financial resources, always poor, mostly drawn from the deposits of wills "guardians of minors" and the S. Monte di Pietą, conditioned the implementation of the new project in a very long time, which are essential to obtaining the necessary funds. Initially, the Government granted a loan of 1,200 ducats out of the Fund of bequests, which are managed by the two prosecutors of the dome at a rate of interest per annum equal to 4 percent. This income was supplemented by a resolution of the City Council Minor, which donates a hundred ducats a year for an old debt balance as of 6000 ducats. While work proceeded on the outside, the church continued to be celebrated until 1749, when for safety reasons it was decided the temporary transfer of the functions in the parish church of San Martino, which was placed an image of St. James as a tangible sign of preservation of the original title vicar. In 1752, completed the roof from the apse to the second pillar, was resumed the liturgy and sacramental life, despite the great difficulties caused the slow continuation of the work. In the same year the three chapels were completed and equipped with their marble altars according to the same order they were placed in the previous building. After a twenty year break, the works were resumed in 1773, when the Congregation of the Fabbrica could count on a fair increase in funds available through the provision by the municipality's annual sum of 200 ducats, freed following the transfer of Bishop Morosini legitimate beneficiary. The burden of expenditure, however, soared compared to the original specifications, partly negate the benefits of that unexpected revenue. The acceleration of the work came through taking out a loan of 2,500 ducats, to which were added in-kind donations of wealthy urban families and a few canons. The new church was finally blessed on 11 December 1788, and rededicated June 27, 1790 by Bishop Giovanni Benedetto Maria Civran.