In this chapter we discuss the Basilica of Saint Anthony or Basilica del Santo, a place of pilgrimage famous throughout the world.
The Basilica of Saint Anthony, also called Basilica del Santo, is one of the main places of pilgrimage in absolute, thanks to the Portuguese Franciscan monk who thrilled the people with his powerful prayers against usury. The works of the Basilica began in 1232, just the following year after the death of the monk, and incorporated the small chapel of “Maria Mater Domini” which housed the tomb of Saint.
The richly decorated Basilica contains numerous works of art and relics that bear witness to the great devotion of pilgrims to the Saint. The building is grandiose and solemn in various styles, from the Romanesque sobriety of the façade, to the almost Byzantine domes, to the bell towers reminiscent of the oriental minarets.
In the square stands the bronze statue of the valiant captain of the Venetian Republic, Erasmo da Narni known as Gattamelata, sculpted with a stick by Donatello in the fifteenth century.
Inside, however, we find:
- The beautiful high altar, where you can see the dramatic reliefs of the Pity, the Deposition and the narratives of the Miracles, always made by Donatello;
- “La Cappella del Santo” or, of the Ark, which bears witness to the influence of the Saint and the numerous requests for help that are asked of him;
- “La Cappella dei Tesoro”, a baroque treasure chest, which houses the most revered relics of Saint Anthony;
- “La Sala del Capitolo”, to the right of the presbytery, which preserves traces of Giotto’s and Bottega’s frescoes.
From the right aisle of the Basilica, however, you can reach the cloisters of the monastery: the “Cloister of the Chapter” beautiful and first nucleus of the convent, the “Cloister of the General”, realized in late Gothic forms, the “Cloister of Paradise”, called so because in the past the garden was used as a cemetery and, finally, the “Cloister of the Novitiate” where young people lived before receiving the votes of the Franciscan order.
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