Church of Santa Maria dei Servi, Padua

Santa Maria dei Servi, or the Church of the Nativity of the Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a 14th-century, Roman Catholic church that faces the Via Roma (once Sant’Egidio) in Padua, region of the Veneto, Italy. The church contains outstanding works of art including a wooden crucifix by Donatello.

The Gothic building is oriented north – south, parallel to the street. The façade supported by pilasters and arches, juts out on a short square; it opens an elegant portal Gothic – Lombard style in Vicenza stone and an oculus. The arcade covers a porch commissioned by Bartolomeo Campolongo and completed in 1510. The 10 octagonal columns come from the Basilica Antoniana and were part of the decoration of the Chapel of the fourteenth century, renovated at the time. On the porch there is a large Gothic portal (last decades of the 14th century), driven by blocks of white marble and red. The doors (15th century) are carved in the Lombard style. Along the wall between pilasters and arches opening single-light trefoil. The apse is hidden by the surrounding buildings. The 14th century bell tower rises above the chapel on the right side, supported on pilasters and arches. The belfry is illuminated by Gothic windows.

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The Miraculous Crucifix by Donatello
Church of Santa Maria dei Servi, Padua, Italy
Church of Santa Maria dei Servi, Padua, Italy
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The Miraculous Crucifix by DonatelloThe miraculous Crucifix of Donatello

In February 1512, for 15 days the almost two-meter poplar crucifix placed between altar and presbytery sweated blood from the face and left side of the chest and the phenomenon continued until Holy Week. Bishop Paolo Zabarella filled an ampoule of miraculous liquid. The extraordinary event succeeded in overwhelming the artistic importance of the work, so much so that the popular memory transferred the authorship of the famous Florentine artist to the Gothic statue of the Virgin preserved in the same church, until 2006 when Marco Ruffini, in the first edition of Vasari’s Lives preserved at Yale, he met the apostille and the Crucifixo has still done as a hora is in the church of Servi a Padoa that led Francesco Caglioti, one of the greatest scholars of Donatello’s work, to confirm the authorship of the miraculous crucifix to Donato Bardi. Thanks to a long and meticulous restoration, entrusted by Dr. Elisabetta Francescutti to Angelo Pizzolongo and Catia Michielan of the laboratories of the Superintendence for the historical, artistic and ethno-anthropological heritage of Udine, a bronze patina applied in the nineteenth century was removed so one of the most extraordinary wooden polychrome sculptures of the fifteenth century came to light: the pathos, the perfect anatomy, the very measured and monumental human dimension place the Servite Crucifix among Donatello’s first works. Following the restoration, the Crucifix was exhibited in the Episcopio di Padova with two other Crucifixes by the artist: the wooden one of the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence and the bronze of the Basilica of the Saint of Padua itself. The Donatello exhibition unveiled received over twenty-two thousand visitors in five months. At the end of the exhibition, on 26 July 2015, the crucifix returned to his chapel.

Mass Times

Weekdays: Holy Mass 7:45 am
Rosary 6:00 pm, Mass 6:30 pm, Vesperi 7:00 pm

Days before holidays: Rosary 6.00 pm, Mass 6:30 pm

Holidays: Masses 10:30 am, 5:15 pm

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