The enormous Santa Giustina Abbey dominates the south side of the Prato della Valle in Padua. It was founded in the 6th century and constructed on top of the tomb of St. Justina of Padua. Since 1919 the adjoining monastery is the seat of the State Library of the National Monument of Santa Giustina.
Santa Giustina Abbey Padua
Address, opening hours and admission
Address Basilica Abbaziale di Santa Giustina: Via Giuseppe Ferrari, 2/A – Padova. Tel.: +39 049 8220411. Opening hours: From 07.30 till 12.00 and from 15.00 till 19.00. On Sundays and holidays the church from 06.30 till 13.00 and from 15.00 till 19.00. During the winter months the church opens at 08.00. Admission: Free.
The Santa Giustina Abbey was the first church that was built in Padua. Although constructed in the 6th century, its present form dates back to the 17th century.
The church is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Santa Giustina. The saint was executed in the 4th century, when she was only 16 years old. Her tomb is one of several martyrs’ burying places inside the church.
The most striking aspect of the Santa Giustina Abbey is presence of no fewer than eight domes. Like that of many churches in the city, the facade was never completed.
With its length of 122 m and its width of 82 m it is one of the largest Christian basilicas in the world.
The church consists of three naves. Its vault is supported by 26 enormous columns. There are twenty side chapels, including the ones in the transept.
The sarcophagus of St. Luke can be seen at the beginning of the left transept. St. Luke was the author of the “Acts of the Apostles” and the “Gospel of Luke” in the New Testament.
Paolo Veronese painted the “Martyrdom of St. Justina” altar piece of the main altar.
Corridor of the Friars
Going through the Chapel of San Massimo to the right of the main altar, you reach the Corridor of the Friars. From here, a small door on the right, leads to the Chapel of San Luca. Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman to ever have obtained a doctorate, is buried in this chapel.
The old choir next to the corridor is only open on request.
Corridor of the Martyrs
One of the chapels in the right aisle is the Chapel of San Matteo. This gives access to the Corridor of the Martyrs. The first room along the corridor contains a well with the bones of early Christian martyrs. The iron cage near the corner of the hallway holds the remains of St. Luke‘s wooden coffin.
At the end of the corridor you will find the funeral chapel of San Prosdocimo. The frescoes in this chapel were painted in the 6th century. The painting above the sarcophagus depicts Saint Prosdocimus, the first bishop of Padua.
The tomb on the left side of this chapel’s atrium contains St. Giustina herself.