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

LauraJ (12 months ago)
Incredible opportunity to visit the tomb of one of the 4 Evangelists, St. Luke!
Mitja Mrzlikar (14 months ago)
Just another church, although quite big.
Marco Dalla Libera (15 months ago)
It is located on one corner of Prato Della Valle square. It is very huge and therefore it is impressive for its architecture. It is absolutely worth a visit.
AJITH PERERA (17 months ago)
Very historic shrine. Available information is not enough
Mo Iggy Loh (20 months ago)
This is a must-visit for me if you are coming to Padua. I will even recommend this church over the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua. You will be able to see many beautiful side chapels (too many to be named here), artwork and relics of Saints, most notably St. Luke (left side) and St. Matthias (right side). Under the High Altar is also the body of St. Justina of Padua, one of the patrons of the city. Behind the Chapel of St. Matthias lies the Corridor of Martyrs, where you will find the Well of Martyrs and an old cage, which is believed to have transported the relics of St. Luke here. One hour will be a reasonable time to spend here. I will also highly recommend attending the Conventual Mass if you have time. The chanting and singing by the monks are simply beautiful and touching. When I was there, they were chanting Vespers in the chapel, and I thought it was music being played on an audio recorder.
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