A place of excellence
Antonio from Lisbon and Padua died on 13 June 1231 and a year later, with unusual celerity, was proclaimed Saint. Since then, for the citizens of Padua, he and the basilica built in his honor are simply known as ‘il Santo’ (the Saint).
The site, where the Basilica stands, is the same place of the small Franciscan convent where Antonio lived and of the church of Santa Maria Mater Domini, where he was first buried (currently corresponding to the chapel of the Madonna Mora). The building then embraced the ancient church, keeping the burial place of the Saint nearby.
The construction of the monumental basilica proceeded quickly and, the construction of the domes most likely had been planned since the start. An important moment in the design of the project is recorded in some documents dated from 1310 and perhaps related to the realization of the deambulatory and the chapels behind the apse.
The last architectural act of the basilica was the construction, in the late seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century, of the shrine for the relics, a circular appendix around the apse; a work of Filippo Parodi and designed to hold all the precious reliquaries that the church had collected and kept throughout the centuries.
The monumental and artistic architectural history of the Basilica and the Antonian complex is composed of many excellent contributions. All the best artists, either from the Veneto region or passing through it, worked in the church: Giotto, Donatello, Titian, Pietro Antonio and Tullio Lombardo, Sansovino, Parodi, Tiepolo, and most recently Annigoni. In the church and its surroundings, an important piece of the Venetian art history has been written, from the Middle Ages to contemporaneity.
The nineteenth century was a crucial century for the basilica, as on the occasion of the seventh centenary of the birth of the Saint (1895) and under the careful supervision of Camillo Boito, a work was undertaken to reorder and restore (where possible) the interior decoration of the church. Over the centuries, the interior had ceased to function for the liturgical requirements and decoration of the temple. This late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century patina made the basilica as we see it today. Inside it preserves frescoes, oil paintings, stone and wood sculptures, goldsmith works, textiles, and various furnishings; all worthy treasures to be protected and remembered.