The Basilica of Saint Anthony

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 Sant’Antonio, also known as the Santo Basilica, is one of the main places of pilgrimage ever, thanks to the Portuguese Franciscan monk who thrilled the people with his powerful prayers against usury. The work of the Basilica began in 1232, just the year after the monk's death, 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, which testify to the pilgrims' great devotion to the Saint.

The Basilica of Saint Anthony

The building is grandiose and solemn in various styles, from the Romanesque sobriety of the façade, to the almost Byzantine domes, up to the bell towers that recall the oriental minarets. In the square stands the bronze statue of the valiant captain of the Republic of Venice, Erasmo da Narni called the Gattamelata, sculpted with the command stick by Donatello in the fifteenth century. Inside, instead, we find: the beautiful high altar, where the dramatic reliefs of the Pietà, of the Deposition and of the narratives of the Miracles, always realized by Donatello, are visible; the Chapel of the Saint or of the Ark, which bears witness to the influence of the Saint and the numerous requests for help that are asked of him; the Chapel of the Treasure, a baroque casket, which houses the most venerated relics of Saint Anthony; the Sala del Capitolo, to the right of the presbytery, which preserves traces of frescoes by Giotto and the Bottega.

The Basilica of Sant’Antonio

From the right aisle of the Basilica, instead, we reach the characteristic cloisters of the monastery: the Cloister of the Chapter or of the magnolia, the name derives from the room next to the Basilica, the Capitolo room, nowadays become chapel but once the monks met, the Cloister of the General, built in late-Gothic style and named after the General of the Order, the Cloister of Paradise, where in the past the garden was used as a cemetery and, finally, the Cloister of the Novitiate where the young people lived before receive the vows of the Franciscan order.

The Oratory of San Giorgio, which faces the Santo Square, is immediately to the right of the Basilica of Sant’Antonio and is easily recognizable as it resembles the Scrovegni Chapel. The oratory owes its origin to the Marquis of Soragna Raimondino Lupi, who wanted its construction to use it, after his transfer to the city of Padua, as a family sepulcher chapel. In the external façade we find a bas-relief depicting Saint George in the act of killing the dragon, while inside it is very marked the influence of Giotto.

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