Abbey of Santa Giustina

Padua, Italy

The Abbey of Santa Giustina is attached to the basilica which was built in the 520s AD by the Prefect Opilius to house the remains of St. Justina of Padua and of other Christian martyrs of the city. By the 10th century the community has been under the Rule of St. Benedict.

At that point the monastic community undertook renovations of the basilica. In 1110 the abbey was sacked by the troops of the future Holy Roman Emperor Henry V during his invasion of Lombardy, in order to punish the monks for their loyalty to Pope Pascal II. The basilica complex was devastated in 1117 by a very strong earthquake which wreaked havoc throughout northern Italy and Germany. After the basilica and monastery were rebuilt, excavations resumed and in 1174 the remains of the patroness of the abbey was discovered, as were those identified in 1177 as those of Luke the Evangelist.

A period of decline in the observance of its way of life began to develop in the monastic community. The abbey reached the height of its influence under the leadership of Ludovico Barbo. He was successful and the abbey became the nucleus of the Congregation of Santa Giustina, which spread to include monasteries throughout Europe who came under the guidance of the Abbot of Santa Giustina. The congregation later became called the Cassinese Congregation. The abbey developed ties with centers of learning across the continent.

The life of the abbey came to an end in 1797 when, along with all other religious communities, it was suppressed in the occupation of Italy by the French Revolutionary Army, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, which established the Cisalpine Republic in the city. Its artworks and the most valuable collections of the abbatial library were sent to Paris by the occupying forces. The monks were expelled and the buildings and property were sold off in 1810. The cloisters were then used as a military hospital, later as a barracks.

The buildings were returned to the Catholic Church in 1917 and Pope Benedict XV re-established the abbey with all its ancient rights and privileges. The basilica and abbey now have the government status of a national monument and operate under the authority of the Superintendent of Monuments and Civil Heritage.

The building is a Latin cross that extends from east to west. At 118.5 metres long and 82 metres wide, the Basilica of Santa Giustina is seventh largest in Italy. There are three main chapels. The presbytery with the choir, and the two chapels for saints Luke and Matthew that form the transepts. Each has a semicircular apse and are flanked by two chapels. Each aisle has six smaller chapels, square plan. The 26 pillars supporting the roof domes, each dome is set directly on the barrel vaults. The central bays are covered by eight domes covered with lead: the central one, with the lantern, is almost 70 metres high and is topped by a statue of copper depicting Santa Giustina, about 5 metres high. The floor of the basilica was laid between 1608 and 1615 on geometric design, with yellow, white and red marble. There are many pieces of Greek marble, from the Basilica Opilionea.

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Details

Founded: 520 AD
Category: Religious sites in Italy

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ghasem Aloostany (2 months ago)
The Abbey of Santa Giustina is a 10th-century Benedictine abbey complex located in front of the Prato della Valle in central Padua, region of Veneto, Italy. Adjacent to the former monastery is the basilica church of Santa Giustina, initially built in the 6th century, but whose present form derives from a 17th-century reconstruction. A church dedicated to the St Justina of Padua and of other 4th century Christian martyrs of Padua, was present at the site by the 520s, erected under the patronage of the Prefect Opilius and housing the relics of the saint. The church was already described as lavish in decoration in the 565 biography of Life of St Martin, written by Venantius Fortunatus. By the 10th century, pilgrims who came to the basilica to venerate the saints' relics, were ministered by monks. In 971, Bishop of Padua placed the community under the Rule of St. Benedict. *source: wikipedia
Gerry Thee (3 months ago)
Wasn't open eventhough it was announces. Park infront of the Basilika is nice. Good parking very near.
Randy Hilarski (3 months ago)
This church has spectacular architecture with multiple domes, typical of the Veneto region. We would not have known it was even open but from a distance I saw a small group of people entering a small door at the front of the cathedral. The church was quite active with multiple priests working and even a communion class. Ypu could spend a few hours in this church exploring each piece of art. Thank you to HEX Crypto for making this possible.
Mel Roc (5 months ago)
A must see on your Padua visit or pilgrimage. A volunteer guide at the church, Giorgio, gave us an amazing historical/theological tour: you can see the tombs of St. Luke and St. Giustina, an intricate wood carved choir, and artifacts from the early Christian and medieval periods. The basilica itself is Renaissance in an austere monastic style. The guide explained how the domes were designed to favor acoustics, something I had rarely seen. Be sure the stop and by and enjoy this gem of a church and the beautiful plaza that surrounds it.
Mircea Dascalescu (6 months ago)
A Must view even if you don’t believe for all the structure, the art and the mystical ambient you’ll found. Beautiful church on my opinion, the structure and the monuments inside made me keep my mouth open. Very nice. Suggested but not a must.
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