The Scuole in Venice were lay brotherhoods under the patronage of a Saint protector, striving towards penitence and devotion or taking care of the interests of single arts or professions, or they were associations fot foreign workers in town who needed assistance and to find a job. In 1400 the Scuole were divided into Scuole Grandi and Scuole Minori, totalling about four hundred. Some Scuole (Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Scuola Grande di San Teodoro) still exist nowdays.
The Archbrotherhood of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, recognized by the Council of Ten of the Republic of Venice in 1478 with its seat in St. Giuliano, then incorporated with another similar association near the Church of Frati Minori (Frari), first moved to St. Silvestro and found its new definitive seat at the beginning of the 16 century.
It is the only brotherhood to have been spared by Napoleonic edict and has continued its activity without interruptions un till modern times. Iy now counts about 350 capitular Brothers (women among them) who assemble in a General Council once a year.
The Archbrotherhood's buildings are the Scuola Grande (visits upon payment), a monumental building dating back to the 16th century, the Church (free entrance) built at the end of the 15th century and reconstructed in the 18th century, and the Scoletta, which was the first seat of the Brotherhood built at the same time as the Church, and now open only on particular occasions.
The building was started in 1515 by Bartolomeo Bon to whom we owe the ground floor. His work was continued by Sante Lombardo (the son of Tullio lombardo) and after 1527 by Antonio Scapagninino who finished the upper part and harmonised the facade with double rows of pillars. Following his death in 1549, the finishing details were executed by Giangiacomo dei Grigi.
The Church of Saint Roch was built between 1489 and 1508 by Bartolomeo Bon, at the same time as the nearby Scoletta. Of the original structure, only the apse and the door, afterwards positioned facing the Scuola, now remain. The rest of the Church was reconstructed in 1725 by Giovanni Scalfarotto.
The facade now existing was erected between 1765 and 1771 by Bernardino Maccaruzzi following the style of the nearby Scuola Grande.