The cloister was founded in 1481 by Marina Celsi, a Benedictine nun,daughter of Venetian patricians, who had been the abbess of the convents of S. Maffio in Murano and S. Eufemia in Mazzorbo.
The complex consists of a convent and a church, which stands just outside the convent. The convent was built first, whereas the church, according to the registries, was erected later and consecrated in 1583.
Marina Celsi’s intent was to build a community of cloistered nuns under the strict observance of the Rule of St Benedict.In 1500, thirty-two nuns were registered in the convent; after eight years the number rose to one hundred, later settling to seventy-five nuns in 1519.
When Napoleon closed down the majority of monasteries in Venice, the complex fell into dereliction. As was the case with many religious buildings, SS. Cosmas and Damian later became state property. During the 19th century, both the cloister and the church were used as barracks: inside the cloister to the right, one can see an inscription above door No. 623/A describing what the place was used for at the time.
In the late 1990s, the complex was bought by Venice’s municipal administration, which took measures to restore the monastery, turning it into workshops and apartments for artisans.
The ex Convent is open to the public. The artisans working to the inside are pleased to welcome all the visitors that desire to admire their craft works, and they can have the possibility to assist to a live demonstration.