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Diocese in northern Italy. The city is situated on a fertile plain and is surrounded and traversed by the Bachiglione River. Its streets are almost all flanked with colonnades. The most splendid of its churches is "il Santo", that is, the basilica of St. Anthony of Padua, begun in 1232; its style is mixed Romanesque and Byzantine, irrespective of later modifications; it has seven cupolas, and is divided into three naves. On the high alter is a crucifix in bronze by Donatello, the author also of the bronze bas-reliefs on the walls of the apse; the bronze candelabra are by Andrea Riccio; the chapel, called "Capella del Santo" (1500-33), is filled with ex-voto offerings, and contains nine base-reliefs by Lombardi, representing miracles of the saint; the chapel of the relics and that of San Felice are also full of works of art. The paintings in this church are by Mantegna, Paolo Veronese, and Tiepolo, while the frescoes are by Giotto and Altichiero da Zevia. The Church of Santa Giustina, rebuilt in 1502, is crowned by eight cupolas, and has fourteen side chapels; there are paintings by Paolo Veronese, Luca Giordano, and Parodio. Beside this church in a famous monastery of the Benedictines, which dates from the ninth century; in the fifteenth century a reform of the order began in this convent of Santa Giustina, now used as a barracks. The cathedral was destroyed by an earthquake in 1117, and was rebuilt by Michelangelo, who, however, finished only the choir and the sacristy. The church, called "degli Eremitani" (1264 and 1309), contains frescoes by Mantegna. The seminary was founded by Bishop Federico Cornaro in 1577, and was greatly enlarged by Blessed Cardinal Gregorio Barberigo in 1671; connected with it are a printing press and a rich library.

Among the secular buildings are the Palazzo della Ragione, dating from 1166, restored in 1218, 1420, and 1756; the Loggia del Consiglio (the palace of the "Capitano"); and the university (1493), by Palladio or Sansovino; annexed to it are a library, with 2500 manuscripts, an anatomical amphitheatre, founded in 1594 by Fabrizio d'Acquapendente, a museum of natural history, a large collection of petrified objects, a botanical garden (1545, first in Europe), and an observatory, erected on a tower of the castle of Ezzelino. Among the public monuments are: the equestrian statue of Gattamelata by Donatello on the piazza del Santo; the statue of Petrarch; and the tomb of Antenor, the legendary founder of the city.

Padua (Patavium) was the chief city of the Veneti, who were continually at war with the Gauls; the Veneti, therefore, were naturally friends of Rome. In 302 BC, Cleonymus, King of Sparta, sailed up the Po with a part of his fleet; but the Patavians drove him back with a severe loss. The city long enjoyed independence, and obtained Roman citizenship only in 49 BC. Under the first emperors, Padua was one of the most heavily taxed cities. It had a flourishing wool industry, and its people were famous for their orderly conduct. Latin literature also flourished among them (Livy, Ascanius Pedanius, Thrasea Pætus). With the growth of Aquileia the importance of Padua waned; it was destroyed in 408 by Alaric, in 452 by Attila, and in 601 by Agilulfus, King of the Lombards. In the tenth century it was harassed by the Hungarians, especially in 903. In 1087, with the consent of Henry IV, Padua made itself a free commune; and in the time of Barbarossa it was among the first cities to establish the Lombard League. It was at war with Venice in 1110 and 1214; with Vicenza in 1140, 1188, and 1201; and with the Ezzelini. Ezzelino IV succeeded in obtaining the sovereignty in 1237. For eighteen years he exercised a most inhuman tyranny; among his victims was the prior of Santa Giustina, Arnaldus, who died after an imprisonment of eight years. In 1256 an army of crusaders, sent by Alexander IV, captured the city, which Ezzelino attempted in vain to recapture.

The city once more flourished; but internal discord developed anew, and wars with neighbors began again, with the result that Padua, following the example of other cities, offered the lordship to Jacopo Carrara in 1318. In 1320, however, Padua was compelled to receive an imperial vicar; and the attempt of Marsilio I of Carrara, son of Jacopo (1328), to rid himself of that functionary, turned only to the advantage of the Scaligeri (Alberto and Mastino), which family were driven from Padua in 1337 by Marsilio, succeeded by Ubertino. The latter greatly increased the territory of the state, and was succeeded by Marsilio II Papafava, and by Jacopo II (1345) a protector of letters and of the arts, assassinated in 1350 by Gulielmo, natural son of Giacomo I. Francesco I, captain of the league against the Visconti, succeeded, but was unsuccessful against Venice and was compelled to accept a humiliating peace; in 1378 he assisted the Genoese in the war of Chiogga. He was more successful, however, against the Scaligeri, from whom he took Feltre, Belluno, Treviso, and Ceneda (1384). His son Francesco Novello (1388) voluntarily submitted to the Visconti and took Brescia and Verona. In 1404 he made an attempt against Vicenza that brought upon him a war with Venice. After a long siege, father and son went to Venice, to obtain favorable conditions of peace, were detained and put to death (1405); the rule of the Carrara thus came to an end, and Padua fell to Venice. In 1509 the Emperor Maximilian I took the city from the Venetians; the Venetians having retaken it, the town was besieged again by the imperialists, who had already taken a bastion, when the explosion of a mine drove them back; thenceforth Padua followed the fortunes of Venice.

Padua is the birthplace of: the Poetess Isabella Andreini; another poetess Gaspera Stampa; the jurist Jacopo Zabarella, his son Cardinal Francesco Zabarella, and his nephew Bartolommeo; Ottonello Descalzo; the man of letters Cesarotti; the naturalist Donati; the mechanician Giacomo dell' Orologio; the painters Francesco Squarcione (Paduan school), Stefano dall' Arzere; G. B. Bissoni; Campagnola; Girolamo Padovano; Mantegna; Alessio Varotari (Il Padovanino); the female painter Domenica Scanferla; the sculptor Tiziano Aspetti; Blessed Pellegrino Manzoni (d. 1267); Blessed Compagno (d. 1264); and of Blessed Cardinal Bonaventura da Padova (d. 1385).

Padua gave a number of martyrs to the Church: St. Giustina, Virgin; St. Daniel; and the Bishop Maximus. The first bishop is said to have been St. Prosdocimus, who cannot have governed the diocese earlier than the beginning of the third century, when the See of Milan was created, even if Crispinus, at the Council of Sardica in 347, was the twelfth Bishop of Padua. After the destruction of the city by Attila, the bishops resided in the island of Melamocco, and took part in the schism of The Three Chapters; Tricidius (620) returned to Padua, which had again grown up. Among the other bishops were Gauslinus, who, in 964, found the relics of the third bishop, St Fidentius; Blessed Bernardo Maltraverso (1031); Pietro (1096), deposed by the Council of Guastalla; St. Bellino Bertaldo, killed in 1147 by Tommaso Capodivacca; Gerardo Marostica (1169), a pacifier. On account of the tyranny of Ezzelino IV, the see was vacant from 1239; Pagano della Torre (1302) built the episcopal palace; Ildebrandino (1319), Pontifical legate on various occasions; Pileo da Prata (1359), founder of the Collegio Pratense; Pietro Barba (1448), Pope Paul II; Fantino Dandolo (1449), formerly a high functionary of Venice; Jacopo Zeno (1460), the biographer of his uncle Carlo, who commanded in the war against Genoa; Nicolò Ormanetto (1570); Giorgio Cornaro (1697) held important charges under the republic; Carlo Rezzonico (1743), Pope Clement XIII; Francesco Scipione Doni dall' Orologio (1807). The provincial Synod of 1350 was important.

The diocese is suffragan of Venice; it has 321 parishes, 570,200 inhabitants, 1 Catholic daily paper, and one weekly Catholic publication.


CAPPELLETTI, Le Chiese d'Italia, X; Idem, Storia di Padua (2 vols., 1875-76); dall' Orologio, dissert. Sopra l'istoria di Padova (9 vols., Padua, 1802-1813); Sartori, Guida stor. delle Chiese di Padova (Padua, 1884); Verci, Storia degli Ecelini (Bassano, 1779); Citadella, Storia dell dominazione carrarese in Padova (2 vols., Padua, 1842); Volkman, Padua als Kunststatte (Leipzig, 1904).

About this page

APA citation. Benigni, U. (1911). Padua. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Benigni, Umberto. "Padua." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Tony Recker.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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