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Padua, St. Anthony Basilic

Padua, St. Anthony Basilic

Emanuela Appetiti

Padua, also known as the City of the Saint, is a strange but charming mixture of both a cultural and an industrial city. After heavy damage caused by bombing during World War II, the city has been extensively rebuilt and is today Veneto's most important economic centre. Although "Padova" is not one of the most alluring cities of northern Italy, it is one of the most ancient and filled with remains of its history.

A former Roman settlement, the town's importance grew during the 13th and 16th centuries Padua was the second biggest university city in Europe (during the 17th century Galileo Galileo researched at the Padova university). Its medical faculty was one of the most ambitious in Europe. The heritage of that era can still be found all over the city, with works by masters like Giotto, Mantegna and Donatello (who originally came from Florence ) as treasure pieces. In that time the city was a scientific, artistic and cultural center but most of all a religious and pilgrimage center for one of the most important saints, because St. Anthony from Padua was buried here.

St. Anthony from Padua was actually born in Portugal, but as he did most of his work here. St. Anthony was miraculously visited by the Infant Jesus, and is commonly referred to today as the "finder of lost articles." Anthony's wealthy family wanted him to be a great nobleman, but for the sake of Christ he became a Priest. He originally joined the Augustinian order, but he became a Franciscan when the headless and mutilated remains of Saint Bernard and his four companions, the first Franciscan martyrs, were brought to be buried in his church. He followed in their footsteps and left his order to go to Morocco to evangelize. He is called the "Hammer of Heretics" because of his simple, and sometimes, miraculous manner of teaching the Catholic faith. His tongue can still be seen in the Vatican, for even though the saint died in 1231 at the age of 36 it is still in corrupted.

Thanks to St. Anthony and the pilgrims that visited this city is now one of the cultural centers in the North-east of Italy. To them the "Basilica di Sant’Antonio" with the grave of "Sant’Antonio" is the most important attraction. Here one can also admire works by medieval and renaissance artists, of whom Giotto is by far the most imported one. Some of his works are in the Sant’Antonio basilica, but you definitely should visit the Scrovegni chapel, covered with Giotto frescoes and furnished with an altar statue of Giovanni Pisano.

Worth visiting are also the Prato della Valle, the biggest square in Europe (if you exlude the Red Square in Moscow) and the Caffe' Pedrocchi, one of the most ancient and renowed caffe' houses in Europe.

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July 04, 2007 change by lpx

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