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Images of St. Anthony of Padua's World
Padua, Arcella, Camposampiero 

Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua

The Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica in Padua. Although the Basilica is visited as a place of pilgrimage by people from all over the world, it is not the titular cathedral of the city, a title belonging to the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Mary of Padua. The basilica is known locally as "il Santo". It is one of the eight international shrines recognized by the Holy See.

Construction of the Basilica probably began around 1232, just one year after the death of St. Anthony. It was completed in 1310 although several structural modifications (including the falling of the ambulatory and the construction of a new choir screen) took place between the end of the 14th and the mid 15th century. The Saint, according to his will, had been buried in the small church of Santa Maria Mater Domini, probably dating from the late 12th century and near which a convent was founded by him in 1229. This church was incorporated into the present basilica as the Cappella della Madonna Mora (Chapel of the Dark Madonna). See also <http://www.basilicadelsanto.it/ing/home.asp>

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Arcella

The Shrine of Arcella

Today, Arcella is a populated neighbourhood in the city of Padua, situated along the road which leads north to Camposampiero.

At the time of St. Anthony, it was a small village just outside the city walls called Capo di Ponte, where there was a small church, Santa Maria della Cella; next to this was a convent of the Poor Clares and a hermitage where a few friars minor lived. Tradition states that this primitive friary was founded in 1220 by St. Francis upon his return from the Holy Land.

Saint Anthony was brought here during his final moments on the evening of 13 June 1231, while he was being transported from Camposampiero to Padua.

This is where he died. "Finding the Saint there, the hand of the Lord descended upon him, increasing his suffering with great violence, creating much anxiety. After a brief rest, having received the Sacrament of Confession and absolution, he began to sing a hymn to the Blessed Mother, O Glorious Lady. As he finished, raising his eyes to heaven with a look of ecstasy, he stared straight ahead. When his fellow friar who was holding him asked what he saw, he replied 'I see my Lord'. At last, that holy soul, freed from the prison of the flesh, was absorbed in the abyss of light." (Vita Assidua).

The cell where St. Anthony died is preserved inside a large church built by E. Maestri in 1895 on the site of previous structures and enlarged in 1930 by N. Gallimberti.

In the unadorned cell the only decoration is a statue of the dying St. Anthony sculpted by R. Rinaldi in 1808.

Also preserved in the church are the remains of Blessed Elena Enselmini, a young Paduan nun who lived at the convent of the Poor Clares in Arcella at the time of St. Anthony and who died a Saint. (Courtesy of http://www.saintanthonyofpadua.net/portale/camposampiero.asp)

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Camposampiero

Camposampiero is an important town in the province of Padua, just twenty kilometres from the city. In St. Anthony's day it was a village which housed the castle of Count Tiso IV, who was converted by St. Anthony's preaching. The count convinced the Saint to retire there in order to rest, and recover his strength of body and spirit. The Saint went there in May of 1231.

Outside the walls of the castle there was a hermitage where the friars used to stay, and with them, St. Anthony. However, St. Anthony decided he wanted more peace and quiet, so he had a small tree-house built in the branches of a walnut tree. "The man of God, having one day admired the beauty of the tree, immediately, upon inspiration of the Spirit, decided to have a cell constructed in the walnut tree, because the tree offered unbelievable solitude and quiet for contemplation. As soon as he heard tell of the Saint's wish from the other friars, the nobleman tied down poles to the branches and, with his own hands, constructed a cell of mats."

Camposampiero is also the place of another famous event in St. Anthony's life: his vision of the baby Jesus. It is an event which, more than any other, characterizes the contemplative spirituality of St. Anthony. The Book of Miracles says: Blessed Anthony found himself in a city to preach and was put up by a local resident. He gave him a room set apart, so that he could study and contemplate undisturbed. While he was devotedly observing the room in which St. Anthony had immersed himself in prayer, peeping through the window, he saw a beautiful joyful baby appear in blessed Anthony's arms. That baby was the Lord Jesus.

In remembrance of these two facts, there are two churches in Camposampiero: the Shrine of the Vision and the Shrine of the Walnut Tree.

The Shrine of the Vision

After St. Anthony's death the residents of Camposampiero wanted to preserve the places made holy by the presence of the Saint. The original chapel where St. Anthony had prayed, celebrated Mass and preached, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, was completely renovated and enlarged in 1437. The new church was a destination of continuous pilgrimage by those devoted to St. Anthony, always warmly welcomed by the friars who have constantly been open to the needs of the pilgrims.

In 1769 the Veneto Senate ordered the closing of many monasteries including that of Camposampiero.

The complex (consisting of church, friary and farmland) was given back to the descendants of the Camposampiero family. They did not provide much upkeep of the church, which for the most part was demolished due to vandalism by the French in 1798. After various owners, the City Government, which took ownership of the Anthonian Shrines in 1854, became responsible for the upkeep.

On 17 October 1895, after being called back by the people and civil authorities, the Franciscan Minors Conventual, once again took possession of the shrine.

The presence of the friars gave back a new life to the shrine. A new church was designed by Augusto Zardo, and the cornerstone was laid on 26 December, 1906. The building was enlarged in 1965.

The Cell of the Vision

The present-day Shrine of the Vision houses the room/cell where St. Anthony's vision took place, having survived the ravages of time. The actual cell has been transformed into a chapel. A narrow staircase leads to the cell, a modest structure in brick, which belonged to the original friary where St. Anthony lived.

A long board is kept there, enclosed under glass; it is believed to have been used by St. Anthony as a bed.

At the back of the room there is an altar with a painting which recounts the vision. To the side there is a painting by Andrea de Murano (1486) portraying the life-size figure of St. Anthony with his usual symbols, the lily and the book, representing his purity and his teachings.

It is the most important place in the entire complex, and is dear to the faithful due to the supernatural event that transpired here when blessed Anthony enjoyed the vision of the baby Jesus. For that reason the cell is called the little "Anthonian Bethlehem". In 1924 the small building was restored, giving it back the original aspect of the 1300's. With the restoration of 1995, an alcove was created on the ground floor to house relics.

The Shrine of the Walnut Tree

Camposampiero, The Shrine of the Walnut Tree, built on the site where the tree grew,and in whose branches St. Anthony built a hermit's cell.
Walking along the tree lined lane from the square in front of the church one arrives at the Oratory of the Walnut Tree, built where there once stood the tree known as the last dwelling place of the Saint. The building dates to 1400: it is a jewel of art especially owing to the presence of the frescoes which cover the façade (both outside and inside) and the walls near the first span of columns.

They are the work of Girolamo Tessari (known as Dal Santo) who painted them during the first half of the 1500s. They depict episodes from St. Anthony's life, especially his more widely-known miracles.

The apse houses a beautiful painting by Bonifacio da Verona (1536) which shows St. Anthony preaching from the walnut tree.

This is presently the church where the Poor Clares from the adjoining convent come to pray. In fact, adjacent to the Shrine of the Walnut Tree is a building constructed in 1967 which is the convent of the Poor Clares and which ideally continues the life-style that St. Anthony lead here at Camposampiero, reminding us all of the unsurpassed value of prayer. 

(Courtesy of http://www.saintanthonyofpadua.net/portale/camposampiero.asp)

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