I love Saint Anthony’s Basilica in Padua!
Here’s the daily Mass Schedule:
Frescoes by Altichiero da Zevio in the St. James Chapel:
Coat of Arms
The Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica in Padua, Veneto, Northern Italy, dedicated to St. Anthony.
The majestic building displays a strong resemblence to Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice. The large structure is Romanesque, while the interior, with its high apse and nine radial chapels, is purely Gothic in style.
Main Altar; The Eucharistic Feast (above)
In the Piazza in front of the Basilica, there is an equestrian statue of the Venetian general Gattamelata. It was cast in 1453 by Donatello. Near the statue, visit the 13th century St. George Oratory and the 16th century Scuola del Santo with frescoes by Titian.
Note the Equestrian Statue of Gattamelata, left of the church by Italian early Renaissance artist Donatello, dating from 1453, located in the Piazza del Santo in Padua.
“Gattamelata” rose in ranks to become the General Commander of all the armies in the Republic of Venice. Donatello’s depiction of Gattamelata was the earliest equestrian work of its kind created during the Renaissance.
The bronze statue was commissioned to memorialize he Venetian condottiere Erasmo da Narni; this military leader was nicknamed “Gattamelata.” meaning “honeyed cat”. He rose in ranks to become the General Commander of all the armies in the Republic of Venice. It was completed between 1447 and 1450 but was not installed on its pedestal in the Piazza del Santo in front of the Basilica of Sant’Antonio until 1453. This statue established a model for equestrian monuments in the West.
The statue is situated on an elliptical base, and Erasmo is dressed in military gear – he is wearing armor and has his sword by his side. His body is in natural proportion to his horse (something that is not always true with other equestrian statues), which indicates that Donatello was trying to achieve a high level of naturalism here. Erasmo is not shown as a deity, but instead as someone who conveys intelligence, courage, and confident; a rather triumphant figure who rides on a horse with its hoof on an orb, a symbol of power.
“Donatello employed symbolism to portray Gattamelata’s military prowess. His horse appears powerful and places his front left hoof upon an orb that symbolizes the earth. With the orb’s inclusion Donatello elevates Gattamela’s social rank. The musculature and posture of the horse is reminiscent of Roman classical antiquity while its execution is distinctly naturalistic”
Donatello had been working in Florence for many years before he eventually moved to northern Italy and to the city of Padua, which was under Venetian control at the time.
“The statue is cast in bronze and portrays Gattamelata and his horse as life sized. Donatello did not make the military leader larger in order to emphasize his importance. Instead he positioned Gattamelata upon his horse with a facial expression that reads as unshakably confident. His horse is in mid-stride and his large sword is sheathed at his side. Donatello chose to depict Gattamelata at the height of his career”.
Visit the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament. This is the first chapel on the right aisle with four columns at the corners.
It preserves the Eucharist. It is also known as Chapel of Gattamelata, because the family of the commander Erasmo da Narni (nicknamed Gattamelata) commissioned the its building in order to place the commander’s tomb in the left wall.
The main altar and the presbytery are separated by an elegant communion rail adorned with four beautiful bronze statues by Tiziano Aspetti (1594).
Look for Donatello’s Crucifix (1446) above the main altar. “The abdominal muscles of Christ are portrayed with breathtaking naturalism, allowing light to subtly define the figure. The intricate depiction of veins in the crucified arms and feet are incredibly life-like, belying the notoriously difficult process of structuring the bronze. It was most likely the opportunity to work with the precious metal that made Donatello decide to relocate his studio to the northern city in the first place. Unlike his earlier works, which involved working on large pieces of marble, Donatello’s art was now taking a different direction. He clearly preferred the modeling techniques of bronze compared to the physical and timely demands of huge blocks of marble. The majority of his late works would include a wide range of lavish bronze sculptures.”
The Gattamelata equestrian commission and the reliefs and figures for the high altar kept Donatello in Padua for ten years. The crucifix was not completed until 1449,
Aerial View of Padua:
Last time I was there, the Basilica was being renovated:
Every year on June 13th in Padua, there is a massive celebration for the Feast Day of Saint Anthony; the Patron Saint of Padua. Franciscan, Saint Anthony was born in Lisbon Portuagal in 1195 but he died in Padua. He is the most celebrated follower of St. Francis of Assisi and is usually shown holding baby Jesus.
He is one of the most adored saints in Italy. I even named my son after him. Most of the Catholics I know pray to him if something is lost. The basilica of Saint Anthony, designed by Nicola Pisano in Padua, was completed in 1231.
His bones and tongue are preserved inside a special chapel with magnificent statuary by Sansovino and Falconetto. The basilica has many cupolas and spires on the roofline.
The Scuola del Santo or Scoletta was the headquarters of the Archconfraternity of St Anthony of Padua. It overhangs the churchyard of Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, next door to the St. George’s Oratory.
The Confraternity built the Scoletta in 1427 and it was expanded in 1504 with the Sala Priorale (Prior’s Room) decorated with a cycle of fifteen frescoes and three canvases, which were worked on by the young Titian between 1510 and 1511. He was entrusted with three paintings of miracles performed by Anthony of Padua, The Miracle of the Newborn, The Miracle of the Healed Foot and The Miracle of the Jealous Husband.
The three large frescoes were painted by him between April and December 1511 in the main room of the Scuola del Santo; they were is first large-scale independent work.
The first scene recalls the miracle of rescue. The story goes like this: A renowned knight in the city of Tuscany suspected his virtuous wife of adultery. While in a rage, he assaulted her and dragged her by her hair against a cliff. There he eventually stabbed her to death. Realizing with regret the result of his beastly behavior, the knight at once ran to St. Anthony and fervently pleaded for help. The saint, in mercy and compassion, rushed to the house and prayed over the dead wife, asking God to restore her life. Restore He did, and from then on St. Anthony came to be regarded as the patron saint of married couples.
The raised arm of the wife in Husband is sculpted in relief above.
Titian, Miracle of the Jealous Husband:
In 1510 an epidemic broke out in the waterlogged port city of Venice. The effect was disastrous. The pestilence took away the life of 32-year-old Giorgione, one of the city’s most celebrated painters and a close associate of Titian. Escaping the contagion, Titian moved to Padua in 1511 where he received one of his first religious commissions to paint three large frescoes in the main hall of the Scuola del Santo, a confraternity devoted to St. Anthony.
Scene two illustrates the second miracle. A wrathful son kicked his mother in anger. When he confessed to the saint, the friar remarked “the foot that strikes mother or father deserves to be cut off.” Taking a literal view of things, the young boy on returning home took a hatchet and chopped off his foot. Repenting of his foolish behavior, his family rushes him to the Franciscan saint. The boy is laid on the ground, his face distorted in pain with his bleeding foot set before him. In a comforting gesture, St. Anthony stretches out his hand and brings relief to the young man by reattaching his foot. The large oak tree at the center of the composition serves as a reminder of the absolute fervor and faith of the great saint.
Scene three is set across an architectural background. It presents to us the third miracle in this series of paintings. A nobleman of Ferrara married a woman of remarkable virtues and extraordinary beauty. Jealous of her gifts, the husband doubted his wife’s fidelity when she conceived. On being accused in public, the helpless wife called for the renowned friar. St. Anthony on arrival turned to the newborn and with childlike simplicity asked him, “Who is your father, my little one?”
The crowd roared in laughter. “Can a newborn speak?” they acclaimed. However, much to their astonishment, the child pointed out to the nobleman and in a clear voice replied, “This is my father.” Putting the child into the arms of the delighted parents, St. Anthony through his ardent intercession restored peace and joy into their household.
Tiziano Vecelli (anglicized as Titian) is one of the greatest painters of the Venetian school of High Renaissance art. Born in the Republic of Venice in 1488-90,
I love the Prato della Valle, a fabulous elliptical square with 78 statues of famous citizens. It is the largest square in Italy, and one of the largest in Europe. The statues are displayed in two rings: an outer ring and an inner ring. Some of the statues were destroyed by Napoleon.
After you visit the Basilica, have lunch and some local Prosecco at Zaaro with an entrance near the Prato della Valle. Then make sure you have tickets to see the Scrovengi Chapel with Giotto’s fabulous frescoes.
The Basilica was dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, who was born around 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal, and who died in Padua on June 13, 1231. The Chapel of Saint Anthony is a splendid Renaissance work begun in 1500 and completed towards the end of that century.
Visit The Chapel of the Relics (Treasury Chapel):
In the left niche there is a modern reliquary containing a relic of Saint Pope John Paul II. The precious central reliquary by R. Cremesini (1982) contains a bone from the foot, a fragment of skin, and some hair from the body of St. Anthony.
In the central niche, in a splendid reliquary by the goldsmith Giuliano da Firenze (1436), with the Tongue of St. Anthony. Above this is a reliquary in which the Saint’s Jawbone is kept. This reliquary is the work of a Paduan artist from 1350.
In a small silver case by G. Fabbro (1437), there is a fragment of the True Cross.
Immediately below the reliquary containing the Tongue is a modern reliquary by C. Balljana (1981), which houses the Saint’s vocal apparatus, removed during the last scientific examination. The chapel also houses St. Anthony’s habit and coffin in which his body was laid to rest.
The beautiful Gothic altar with its majestic statue of the Blessed Virgin (below) is the work of a French master: Renauldin Puydarient (Renauldin of Gascony, 1396).
Madonna and Child between St Francis and St Anthony
Miracle of the New-born Child (detail below)
The Dead Christ
Stroll through the charming town of Padua if you need a break from the Basilica.
Visit the church of San Gaetano (1574–1586) designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, with an interesting octagonal plan.
Stop at Caffe Pedrocchi for a Vino con Vista. Then you can visit the Risorgimento museum.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ http://www.vino-con-vista.com
Pedrocchi Cafe (Caffè Pedrocchi) is also home to the Museo del Risorgimento e dell’Età Contemporanea.
Sophisticated Sojourners may want to dine at Le Calandre; a restaurant in the village of Sarmeola di Rubano 6 kilometres (4 miles) west of Padua, Italy.
Opened in 1981 by Erminio Alajmo and his wife Rita Chimetto, the restaurant gained its first Michelin star in 1992 with Chimetto as chef de cuisine
MICHELIN Guide 2020
Massimiliano Alajmo’s Restaurants and Food Adventures:
Chef Massimiliano Alajmo and his brother Raffaele preside over their astonishing Michelin three-star flagship.
Located in a former tobacco warehouse, the Alajmos’ rustic-chic Michelin one-start restaurant serves neo-traditional dishes and has earned a Michelin star of its own for dishes like slow-cooked crisp goose leg with potato cream.
A key part of the Alajmos’ flavor laboratory, this deli sells products like prosciutto from Italy’s top food artisans.
This stylish restaurant has great bar snacks, a fabulous wine list (with choices like Gravner) and pastries such as the chocolate Torta Pazientina.
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