Padua and ‘Il Santo’
When you think of Padua it is almost inevitable to think of St. Anthony of Padua, a saint whose image is so widespread throughout the world that his is perhaps the most readily recognised iconography of all. With his numerous miracles, the saint has touched the hearts of many and even changed the course of history. For Padua simply ‘Il Santo’, he is a saint who has left a immense spiritual legacy.
Witness in the city
The city and surrounding areas are full of places that bear witness to the saint’s life. These include the Walnut Tree Sanctuary in Camposampiero, which stands on the site of a walnut tree where Count Tiso, ruler of Camposampiero, had a small monastic cell built which the saint could use as a hermitage for prayer and meditation. Nearby is the Sanctuary of the Saint’s Vision, which contains the old monastic cell where St. Anthony had his famous vision of the Infant Jesus. And within Padua itself, there is the Sanctuary of Arcella, in the Arcella district, which houses “the place the Saint passed through”, which still figures in the traditional religious celebrations on the eve of 13 June. Finally, of course, there is the Basilica of St. Anthony; housing the tomb and reliquaries of St. Anthony – as well as a wealth of remarkable artistic treasures –this attracts millions of visitors and pilgrims every year from all over the world.
The St. Anthony Walk
The life and history of St. Anthony are obviously bound up with the history of Franciscanism – and it is this link that threads together the various sites in Padua associated with St. Anthony and the other more distant locations that form what has become known as The St. Anthony Walk. Carefully organised by an association of the same name, this Walk is a journey in various stages that – from Padua to La Verna – links places associated with the life of St. Anthony; that brings together the places which house the various reliquaries of ‘Il Santo’ and those which are of particular importance in popular devotion to the saint (from Venice, Bassano del Grappa and Gemona del Friuli in the north, to Milazzo in Sicily).