The actual Basilica of Saint Anthony at Padua is largely the result of three different reconstructions, which took place over a period of about 70 years: 1238-1310. In St. Anthony’s time there was the little church Santa Maria Mater Domini, which was then integrated into the Basilica and is now the Chapel of the Black Madonna. Next to this, in 1229, the Friary sprang up, which was probably founded by St. Anthony himself. St. Anthony died in 1231 in Arcella, in the north of the city where a Clarisse monastery then stood, his body – according his own wishes – was transported and buried in the little church Santa Maria Mater Domini. The construction of the first nucleus of the Basilica, a Franciscan church with only a single nave and a short transept, began in 1238; two lateral naves were added and it was eventually transformed into the amazing structure that we admire today.
Saint Anthony is one of the most beloved saints in the world. He is the “Wonder Worker”, whose feast day is celebrated on 13 June, the date of his death, but he was above all a great spiritual leader, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII. He is remembered as Saint Anthony of Padua, though he was not born there. He devoted the most significant part of his ministry in that city and died and was buried there in 1231. Pope Gregory IX canonized him only a year after his death.