Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua

The Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua (Italian: Sant’Antonio di Padova) is a church in Padua, northern Italy. Although the Basilica is visited as a place of pilgrimage by people from all over the world, it is not the titular cathedral of the city, a title belonging to the Duomo. The basilica is known locally as “il Santo”.

File:Veneto Padova1 tango7174.jpg

Construction of the Basilica probably began around 1232, just one year after the death of St. Anthony. It was completed in 1301 although several structural modifications (including the falling of the ambulatory and the construction of a new choir screen) took place between the end of the 14th and the mid 15th century. The Saint, according to his will, had been buried in the small church of Santa Maria Mater Domini, probably dating from the late 12th century and near which a convent was founded by him in 1229

Relics of St Anthony are to be found in the ornate baroque Treasury Chapel (begun in 1691). The body of the saint, which was in Madonna Mora Chapel, has, from 1350, lain in a separate transept chapel, the interior decoration being attributed to Tullio Lombardo, who also provided many of the high-reliefs. The late-16th century statues are by Tiziano Aspetti

The Noviciate Courtyard

 

Noviciate courtyard, second half of the 15th cent

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)

Magnolia courtyard, 1433From 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

General's courtyard, 1435Exiting 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)

Blessed Luca Belludi's courtyard, late15th centYou 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

Altichiero da Zevio, Crucifixion, St. George's Chapel, 1378 detail.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
Titian, Miracle of the new-born who speaks, Scoletta, 1511, detail.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

Donatello, Monument to Gattamelata, 1453In 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.

 


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