Saint Anthony Basilica

Saint Anthony is one of the most revered saints of the Christian Church. Although closely associated with Padua, Anthony was born in Lisbon around 1195. As a child he received a serious theological and philosophical education and in 1219 was ordained a priest in Coimbra. There, in 1220, the remains of five Franciscan missionaries who sacrificed their lives for the sake of spreading the still young religion arrived. Their feat gives rise to the priest’s desire to be like them and to imitate them. He joined the Franciscan order and went to Morocco to follow the example of the martyrs. However, the ship he was traveling on was shipwrecked and St. Anthony ended up on Italian soil. He took this as a sign from God and stayed forever in Italy.


In Italy, Saint Anthony took care of the poor, the sick, the orphans and quickly became a symbol of charity. Therefore, when he died, Pope Gregory IX canonized him even before a year had passed since his death. Saint Anthony died on June 13, 1231, only 35 years old, which is why he is depicted as a young man. He was buried in a small church, but later, after he was canonized, the Franciscan monks decided to build a larger church. Thus began the construction of one of the most visited basilicas in Italy. Today the church “St. Antonio” in Padua is the most important religious and artistic center of the city. The Basilica of San Antonio in Padua is one of the largest churches in the world, visited each year by more than 5 million pilgrims. The relics of Saint Antonio are preserved here. In 1231, when he realized that death was approaching, Antonio asked to be brought to Padua, but died on June 13 on the way, in the suburb of Arcella. Soon after the death of the saint, the construction of a church worthy to receive his relics began. The construction was completed in 1310. In the following centuries, the church was changed several times, resulting in a mixture of different styles.


Description: the interior of the basilica /picture source: Shutterstock/;

Among the most valuable relics are the saint’s vocal cords and tongue, preserved throughout the centuries intact. The preservation of these essentially mortal remains of a person’s vocal apparatus also ranks among the many miracles associated with the saint’s name. It is they who remain imperishable, because through them he preached and told the Bible story. The legend of the Saint tells that even the speechless fish gathered to listen to the sermons and stories of Saint Anthony.

Entering the interior of the basilica, you can’t help but admire its beautiful altar, which was worked on by the world-famous Donatello. In front of the basilica there is a huge sculpture made by the masterful hands of Donatello, which is considered the first civic monument of the Renaissance in Italy. The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius II is sculpted, dressed in typical Roman military clothing and mounted on his horse. The black figure of the emperor against the background of the red brick walls looks really extremely majestic.


Description: the interior of the basilica /picture source: Shutterstock/;

There is no way to describe the interior of the basilica in detail, because it is extremely richly decorated. Everywhere you turn you will see true masterpieces of sculpture and fine art. Some compare the Basilica of San Antonio to the Cathedral of San Marco in Venice because of its huge Byzantine domes. Its neighboring bell towers somewhat resemble the minarets of mosques.

Another famous person from Italian history is buried in the Basilica of San Anthonio – Erasmus ga Narni (1370-1443), known as the Soldier of Destiny. Thanks to his courage and cunning, he became a popular mercenary who was often used by the popes and in 1437 he became the ruler of Padua.


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