|The Noviciate Courtyard
Only groups who are accompanied by the Basilica’s religious or authorised personnel may visit this Courtyard.Exiting the Basilica from the only Sacristy door which opens to the outside, you enter the Noviciate Courtyard
, the name of which comes from the fact that the novices’ rooms are located along one side. These young candidates for religious life spend a very intense spiritual year in the Community of the Basilica, animating both community life and liturgical celebrations with their presence.
The Noviciate Courtyard, created in the latter half of the fifteenth century in a Gothic style, is amply proportioned; the airiness of the arches, which counterpoints the green of the lawn, and the peaceful atmosphere inspire unforgettable feelings. Added to this a view of the Basilica from the south-east corner that never fails to charm every visitor.
The Magnolia Courtyard (or Chapter Courtyard)
From the Basilica’s south door (or from the Noviciate Courtyard) you can reach the Magnolia Courtyard, so-called because of the “Magnolia grandiflora” which was planted in the centre in 1810. The actual courtyard originates from 1433. Here, as in the other courtyards, there are tombs, monuments, plaques and epigraphs, too much to describe in detail here.
The entrance to the Souvenir Shop is on the south side. It contains religious objects and books. Inside the shop, a glass door opens onto the Offices of the Messenger of St. Anthony and the Pilgrim Reception Area for relations with members of St. Anthony’s family. The Information Office, open from April to November, is located on the west side of the courtyard, just before the courtyard exit.
The General’s Courtyard
Exiting the shop or the Magnolia Courtyard you can enter the General’s Courtyard (built in 1435, in the Gothic style, work of Cristoforo da Bolzano). It has this name because the accommodations reserved for the General of the Order (as well as other religious authorities), during visits to the Basilica and its religious community, open onto this courtyard. From this courtyard you can enter the prestigious Anthonian library.
To the west of the Courtyard, you can visit the Anthonian Exhibition, an interesting audio-visual presentation of the life of St. Anthony and the continuation of his work today. A stop here compliments the visit to the Basilica..
Blessed Luca Belludi’s Courtyard (or the Museum Courtyard)
You can get here either through the Anthonian Exhibition or the Magnolia Courtyard. This is a majestic Gothic courtyard dating back to the latter half of the fifteenth century. The adjacent rooms are the seats of various organisations: the Institute of Religious Science, the Centre for Anthonian Studies, the Anthonian Museum, containing various works of art of considerable value and the Anthonian Museum of Popular Devotion.
The latter is open to the public, during the summer, and is worth a visit (descriptive brochures are available). It is divided into sections with each area referring to different aspects of the world of devotion and pilgrimage to the Saint.
St. Anthony’s Square
Two chapels open onto St. Anthony’s Square which, while not well known, are true artistic treasures
The Oratory of St. George
This chapel was built by Raimondino Lupi di Soragna (Parma) in the latter half of the fourteenth century as a burial chapel for himself and his family who had retired in Padua. It was completed by his relative Bonifacio Lupi. Just like St. James’ Chapel in the Basilica, the oratory was completely frescoed by Altichiero da Zevio and his aides. Art lovers must not miss this splendid occasion. The entrance fee is very modest and there are detailed guides available.
To visit, ask one of the guardians, who can be found in the adjacent building which connects St. George’s Oratory to the little church on the right, popularly known as the School of the Saint, the ‘Scoletta’.
The School of the Saint
This term originates from Venetian tradition. It refers to the seat of the Arch-confraternity of St. Anthony, which boasts of a centuries long history and which is still an active charitable society.
Nationally it is known for the “Goodness Competition” for schools.
In the fifteenth century the Arch-confraternity ordered the construction of the little church on the ground floor and at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the conference room above it. In this room you can admire sculptures, frescoes and paintings of considerable interest; in particular three frescoes and a sinopia drawing by the young Titian (1511) depicting the Saint’s miracles.
The Gattamelata monument
In the Basilica, in the Chapel of the Most Holy, there is the Tomb of Erasmo da Narni (nicknamed Gattamelata, 1443) Here we can admire the renowned equestrian monument, a bronze masterpiece by Donatello (1453), which uses, for the first time in modern history, the ancient theme of the equestrian monument. Funereal symbols, engraved onto the cenotaph, ensure that the memory of the unyielding leader remains vivid.