The Abbey of Santa Giustina is a Benedictine abbey in the center of the City of Padua, facing the Prato della Valle, which dates from the 10th century. The abbey is attached to the Basilica of Santa Giustina, which was built in the 6th century. Its present shape derives from construction in the 17th century.
|Abbey of St. Justina|
Abbazia di Santa Giustina
Basilica of St. Justina
|Order||Order of St. Benedict|
|Dedicated to||St. Justina of Padua|
|Abbot||Francesco Trolese, O.S.B.|
|Heritage designation||National monument|
The abbey is attached to the basilica which was built in the 520s by the Prefect Opilius to house the remains of St. Justina of Padua (d. 7 October 304) and of other Christian martyrs of the city. The building, with its lavish decorations, was described in 565 in a Life of St. Martin written by Venantius Fortunatus. By the 10th century, the presence of a monastic community which served the many pilgrims who came to the basilica to pray to the saints whose relics were contained there is seen in the decision of the Bishop of Padua in 971 to place the community under the Rule of St. Benedict.
At that point the monastic community undertook renovations of the basilica. In the course of this work, on 2 August 1052 the remains of various saints, including Maximus the Confessor, Felicitas of Padua, Julian the Hospitaller and those identified as the Holy Innocents, were exhumed. 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. At the same time, the monks were led by a number of very spiritual abbots, such as Arnaldo of Limena, who died while imprisoned by Ezzelino III da Romano and is honored as "Blessed", as is Nicholas of Prussia. The abbey, however, reached the height of its influence under the leadership of Ludovico Barbo, who, despite being a canon regular and not a monk, was appointed as abbot by the bishop in order to undertake a reform of the monastic life in the abbey. 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. He placed it under the Abbey of Praglia in nearby Teolo, which sent monks to resume monastic life there. On 1 November 1942 the community was declared an autonomous priory, which was established under its own abbot on 22 January 1943. 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 (389 ft) long and 82 metres (269 ft) wide, the Basilica of Santa Giustina is one of the largest of Christianity; it is seventh largest in Italy. The grandeur of the building is enhanced by the Prato della Valle, which it overlooks. 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 (230 ft) high and is topped by a statue of copper depicting Santa Giustina, about 5 metres (16 ft) 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.
The first chapel is dedicated to Saint James the Less. The altar is in polychrome stones in the style of the Corbarelli family of the seventeenth century. The white marble altarpiece shows an oil on canvas by Carlo Caliari: the martyrdom of Saint James.
The second chapel is dedicated to Pope Gregory I. Altar in polychrome mineral marquetry in the taste of the Corbarelli family of the twentieth century. The altarpiece is erected in green marble from Africa and Carrara white. The painting is an oil on canvas by Sebastiano Ricci representing Pope Gregory I who invokes the Virgin for the end of the plague in Rome at the beginning of the 18th century. Ricci's work replaced an initial painting by Carlo Cignani who "went wrong."
The third chapel is dedicated to Daniel of Padua. The architecture of the altar is characterized by the use of red marble from France and the marbles of Carrara and Padua; The painting of the altarpiece is Antonio Zanchi (1677), it represents the martyrdom of Saint Daniel. The altar is the work of the brothers Corbarelli.
The vast chapel was reorganized for the liturgical adaptations implemented in the years of the Second Vatican Council. In the center is the monument that houses the relics of St. Luke the Evangelist. Very careful work of the Pisano-Venetian school of 1313, commissioned by the Abbot Gualpertino Mussato and originally erected in the old Gothic chapel in 1562. The monument is made of serpentine and marble of Verona. It is enriched with eight alabaster panels carved in bas-relief depicting angels and symbols related to the saint. The whole rests on two granite columns, two alabaster spiral columns and the center is placed on a support in Greek marble, representing caryatid angels, supporting the whole. The altar of the sixteenth century, today displaced, served as a base time for the monument. All around a modern and controversial wooden choir. At the top is placed the sixteenth-century version - attributed to Alessandro Bonvicino - of the Virgin Salus Populi Patavini Constantinople. It is framed and supported by the bronze angels of Hamlet Sartori (1960-1961). The Byzantine icon of origin, according to tradition, painted by Saint Luke and brought to Padua to save from the iconoclastic fury of Constantinople, is now in a sanctuary in the monastery.
On the large wall on the right, there is the great canvas by Antonio Balestra, a work of 1718 depicting 'the martyrdom of Saints Cosmas and Damian'. Opposite, on the left wall, "The Great Massacre of the Innocents" by Sebastiano Galvano, signed by the mid-sixteenth century. Initially this work was in the church of San Benedetto Novello.
It is elevated in relation to the rest of the building and is accessible by a monumental staircase. Below is a large crypt, now a winter chapel. The balustrades are the work of Francesco Contini (1630). On the sides, at the top, niches inside, two busts that ideally represent the two Roman patricians Vitaliano (right) and Opilione (left) works of Giovanni Francesco de Surdis of 1561.
Decorated with "Florentine" combining fine inlays of marble on which are placed pieces of mother-of-pearl, coral, lapis lazuli, carnelian, pearls and other precious materials. The delicate work was carried out between 1637 and 1643 by Pietro Paolo Corbarelli designed by Giovan Battista Nigetti, brother of the famous Matteo Nigetti. On 7 October 1627, with great pomp, the body of Saint Justine was placed under the altar. The painting of the altarpiece The martyrdom of Saint Justine by Paolo Veronese oil on canvas from 1576.
The chapel is the work of Genoese artist Filippo Parodi in 1689. The artist took charge of the architectural, decorative and sculptural design including the ceiling, adorned by an angelic stucco crowd. In the center is the Pietà, surrounded by two statues of Mary Magdalene and John the Apostle.
The altar houses the tomb containing the remains of the second bishop of Padua, Saint Maximus. The statue group: saint maxime, the angels who hold the insignia of the bishop and saint jacques is the work of Michele Fabris (1681), while the statue of St. Bartholomew is the result of the scissors of Bernardo Falcone (1682). The altar in marquetry of polychrome stone, is the work of the Corbarelli family.
The great space is dominated by two imposing canvases: on the right The mission of the Apostles (1631) of Battista Bissoni and Saints Cosmas and Damian saved by the angel (1718) of Antonio Balestra, this one comes from the Church of the Mercy. Below the paintings are the confessionals and a pulpit from the seventeenth century. At the bottom of the chapel is a monument in Greek and African marble where the body of Saint Matthias the Apostle rests. The work is inspired by the reliquary tomb of Saint-Luc which is anterior. It was completed in 1562 by Giovanni Francesco de Surdis who carved the bas-reliefs representing the apostles. Behind the ark opens the door leading to the Martyrs' room. The 15th century vault is decorated in the style of the Renaissance. The bas-reliefs are attributed to the circle of Bartolomeo Bellano. A small alabaster temple with rich ironwork houses a representation of the virgin.
It is accessible from the right transept. Built in 1564 on the ruins of the ancient abbey church of the Middle Ages, it was designed to allow passage to the Sanctuary of St. Prosdocime of Padua. The corridor, painted in the 16th and 17th centuries, is counter-vaulted and, in the middle, an octagonal space covered by a dome decorated with fresco by Giacomo Ceruti. In the center there is the well of the Martyrs: built on the orders of the abbot Angelo Sangrino in 1565 above the medieval well (still visible in the basement) which was in the middle of the nave of the original basilica. The octagonal marble of Verona marble and alabaster, is finely worked. A grid allows to see at the bottom the bones of the martyrs of the Diocletian era discovered here in 1269 by Blessed Giacoma. In the west corner a piece of the mosaic decoration that adorned the floor of the opilionea basilica of the sixth century is still visible. At the bottom an altar of the sixteenth century on a painting by Pietro Damini The discovery of the well of the martyrs and the miraculous power of the twelve candle count among the best works of the artist. Also visible is a large iron cage, dating back to the Middle Ages, which contained the remains of Saint Luke. The two statues of saints Peter and Paul are the work of Francesco Segala.
Following the corridor of the Martyrs is the sanctuary of Prosdocimus of Padua or Sanctuary of Santa Maria. One of the oldest buildings in Veneto: dated from the 6th century. It is the only preserved vestige of the opilionea basilica. Originally it was a chapel dedicated to the preservation of relics. The space is conceived on the plane of the Greek cross and is characterized by a very elegant awning composed of dome all painted in grotesque in the sixteenth century to replace the original mosaic decoration. It was the burial place of the first bishops of Padua, including the first, St Prosdocime of Padua, whose body rests in the altar of 1564. It consists of a Roman sarcophagus placed on the right (in relation to the " apse). Above the altar is a bas-relief depicting St Prosdocime of Padua in the Roman aristocrat's dating from the 5th century. In front of the apse a pergola, in Greek marble, astonishing work of the sixth century practically intact preserved in the initial position of Iconostase Along the wall of the small entrance hall, remains of frescoes from the twelfth century, decorations from the 16th century. The tympanum of the door of the basilica opilionea of the sixth century.
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The first monastery on Monte Cassino was sacked by the invading Lombards around 570 and abandoned. Of the first monastery almost nothing is known. The second monastery was established by Petronax of Brescia around 718, at the suggestion of Pope Gregory II and with the support of the Lombard Duke Romuald II of Benevento. It was directly subject to the pope and many monasteries in Italy were under its authority. In 883 the monastery was sacked by Saracens and abandoned again. The community of monks resided first at Teano and then from 914 at Capua before the monastery was rebuilt in 949. During the period of exile, the Cluniac Reforms were introduced into the community.
The 11th and 12th centuries were the abbey's golden age. It acquired a large secular territory around Monte Cassino, the so-called Terra Sancti Benedicti ("Land of Saint Benedict"), which it heavily fortified with castles. It maintained good relations with the Eastern Church, even receiving patronage from Byzantine emperors. It encouraged fine art and craftsmanship by employing Byzantine and even Saracen artisans. In 1057, Pope Victor II recognised the abbot of Monte Cassino as having precedence over all other abbots. Many monks rose to become bishops and cardinals, and three popes were drawn from the abbey: Stephen IX (1057–58), Victor III (1086–87) and Gelasius II (1118–19). During this period the monastery's chronicle was written by two of its own, Cardinal Leo of Ostia and Peter the Deacon (who also compiled the cartulary).
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