A Heritage of documents
The archive of the Veneranda Arca of Saint Antony, declared of considerable historical interest by the competent Archival Superintendence, provides precise documentary evidence of the six-hundred-years of the history of both the basilica complex and the devotion of the city of Padua and its territory, since the fourteenth century until today.
The Veneranda Arca was born as an informal institution as early as the thirteenth century, in order to both administer the conspicuous flow of donations of the faithful and city authorities for the construction of the basilica, following the canonization of Saint Anthony, and manage such work.
The 1396 Statutes defined the rules of operation and the internal organization.
The archive is the expression of the Arca’s activity, not only with respect to its nature and tasks, but rather in relation to the life of the city of Padua and its inhabitants, or immigrants, of any social rank, who had come in contact with the Basilica for the most diverse reasons: University teachers, Venetian patricians, pilgrims and devotees, famous artists, singers, musicians and instrumentalists, scribes, accountants, notaries, librarians, archivists, workers, tenants, peasants.
The Veneranda Arca di Sant’Antonio has entertained very diverse relations with the civic milieu and throughout the years has become an entirely Paduan institution, in all its declinations.
Therefore, as an eminently urban institution, through its documents, the Arca tells an uninterrupted story of actions, interrelations with institutions, territory demarcation decisions, land reclamations and river embankments, attesting the special relationship that the city has always had with the Antonian complex. This includes the Gastaldia of Anguillara gifted by the Carrara family, artistic and architectural choices, and life needs, both in everyday life and in the exceptionality of events which involved the most important names of the Italian artistic panorama: Donatello, Lombardo, Sansovino, Parodi, …
The archive consists of 64 series, which include administrative and accounting documents related to movable and real estate properties of the Arca and the management of the properties of the Music Chapel, the building complex, the Library, but also cartography and preparatory materials of the decorative apparatus of the basilica.
The reorganization of the archive now offers to scholars the possibility to write, or rewrite, the aspects of the Paduan life in relation to the Basilica, using authoritative documents that, now, being organized and traceable, represent the foundations and pillars of such history.