Saint George’s Oratory
Overlooking the churchyard of the Basilica, Saint George’s Oratory was built as a funerary chapel in 1377 by order of Raimondino Lupi, a member of a collateral branch of the Lupi di Soragna family.
A few years earlier, Bonifacio, Raimondino’s cousin and eminent personality of this important family linked to the entourage of the Da Carrara, lords of Padua in the fourteenth century, had supported the construction of the Saint James’ Chapel inside the Basilica, commissioned for the architectural part and sculptural to Andriolo de Santi.
These two monumental projects attest the devotion to the Saint and the link with the Franciscan order of this powerful clan, as well as its desire to take root in the center of Padua and assert its role within the city elite.
The pictorial decoration of the Oratory, completed in 1384, was entrusted to Altichiero da Zevio, who, in 1379, had painted the Saint James’ Chapel. Brought back to light in 1837, the frescoes underwent an important restoration between 1995 and 1997.
The cycle has as inescapable reference the Scrovegni Chapel, Giotto’s masterpiece, and how it culminates in a starry sky with clipei depicting sacred figures. On the counter-façade are painted episodes from the life of Christ facing the Crucifixion and the Coronation of the Virgin on the wall at the back of the church. On the long walls there are episodes of the history of Saint George, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and Saint Lucy. Moreover, on the left wall, ample room is given to the votive scene in which Rinaldino Lupi and his wife Matilde, parents of the donor, followed by other members of the family in military garments, including Raimondino himself, kneel to the Virgin, introduced by Saint George and in the presence of numerous saints.
At the center of the oratory stood the complex architectural-sculptural structure of the funerary sarcophagus of the founder, whose stone sepulchre is still preserved.
Today, the precious frescoes come back to life thanks to the installation of an innovative lighting system, promoted by the Veneranda Arca di S. Antonio with the support of the Cassa di Risparmio di Padova and Rovigo Foundation and iGuzzini illuminazione spa, leading company in the architectural lighting sector, that also oversaw its setting up under the direction of the architect Antonio Susani.
The realization of this project allows the Oratory of San Giorgio to be the first of the sites participating in the UNESCO candidacy to adopt a lighting system inspired by that of the Scrovegni Chapel.