Places of Faith
The county of Padua is rich in sacred places.
Like Padua, the county is rich in sacred places, too, that served as places of faith, culture and research for centuries. Among these, special fascination is exerted by monasteries and hermitages.
The countryside is also rich in places linked to the cult of the Virgin Mary, often built to remind of miracle events. The Sanctuary of S. Maria di Monteortone in Abano Terme began its history in 1428 when during a pestilence an ill knight saw the Virgin Mary appear. She invited him to bathe in the water, where the knight found an image of the Virgin Mary that soon turned into an object of veneration. The sanctuary preserves this sacred image, frescoes by Jacopo da Montagnana and an altar piece by Palma il Giovane.
Embedded in the green of the Euganean Hills there stands the Abbey of S. Maria di Praglia, established in the 11th century and a centre of agricultural colonization by the Benedictine monks of the whole territory west of Padua in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance. In 1448 the Abbey was expanded and restored by adding its elegant church upon a design by Tullio Lombardo, and with the reconstruction of part of the monastery. The church devoted to Our Lady of the Assumption preserves various frescoes and paintings of the Venetian school, and a wooden crucifix attributed to Giotto’s followers. The monastery is also formed by beautiful cloisters, the precious chapterhouse, the monumental refectory and the well-known “divina loggetta”, or divine loggia as depicted by writer Antonio Fogazzaro in his novel “Piccolo mondo moderno” (1901 – Little Modern World). The Abbey is internationally known for its great contribution to the restoration of ancient books and illuminated manuscripts, made by the monks themselves. The top of Monte Rua has been hosting a Camaldolese hermitage for cloistered life since 1339. Even though visitors are not allowed in, from outside the monastery visitors can enjoy a beautiful view on the surrounding hills and the plain. Near Este there stands the very old Abbey of S. Maria di Carceri: the huge complex includes a church and an abbey, cloisters, and guest-rooms. It was partly turned into a villa towards the end of the 17th century. It preserves very old portions made in the Romanesque age, the Renaissance cloister, a precious baptistery, the frescoed walls of the former Library, and a small Museum of Agricultural Civilization. The Church of S. Stefano at Due Carrare was part of an abbey once, and it was annexed to a huge monastic complex built little after the year 1000; it is a precious example of the Romanesque style in the Veneto. The floor of the church is an old mosaic made in the 11th century and partly in the 14th century; inside the church a marble sarcophagus contains the mortal remains of Marsilio da Carrara, lord of Padua, died in 1338. Still on the Euganean Hills, on the Monte della Madonna (near Teolo) there stands the Sanctuary of Madonna del Monte, built in the Sixteenth century. Our Lady of the Graces is venerated in the Basilica of Este, which was built in 1717 in the same place where a previous sanctuary rose to keep a Byzantine painting of the Virgin Mary, this painting being deemed to do miracles. And the Santuario del Tresto, near Ospedaletto Euganeo, was built after the Virgin Mary, too. Built in 1468 after a boatman saw the Madonna, the church still holds its original decoration and paintings by Venetian painters, including the Madonna Miracolosa attributed to Jacopo da Montagnana. Outside the building, a shrine protects a spring that is deemed to have appeared by miracle while the church was being built. At Piove di Sacco, the main town in the green Saccisica district, two major religious buildings rise: theCathedral dedicated to St. Martin and the Sanctuary of Madonna delle Grazie, where a painting of the Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus by Giovanni Bellini is kept. At Camposampiero there stands the small but fascinating Santuario del Noce (Walnut-tree Sanctuary), dedicated to St. Anthony. As the legend goes, this small church was built precisely on the spot where St. Anthony delivered a memorable sermon from the top of a walnut-tree. Inside the church, a complete cycle of frescoes made by the 16th-century painter Girolamo del Santo recalls scenes of miracles and of the life of St. Anthony, while the altar piece representing the sermon of St. Anthony from the walnut tree is signed by Andrea da Murano (1486).