Monastery of Sant'Antonio in Polesine

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Monastery of Sant'Antonio in Polesine

Sant'Antonio in Polesine is a wonderful monastery that stands in the oldest part of the city. Founded by Benedictine nuns in the early Middle Ages, it is one of the most evocative places in Ferrara, with an atmosphere that conveys its strong spirituality.

Historical Notes

Sant'Antonio in Polesine was the first female monastery in the Este city, created to welcome Beatrice d'Este, daughter of Marquis Azzo VII Novello d'Este, and the young women who, like her, wished to follow the Benedictine rule.
Since then, this convent was always protected and patronised by the Este family: in addition to the attentions of popes and bishops, there were also numerous donations as dowries or as testamentary bequests. 
Sant'Antonio in Polesine is the oldest continuously-inhabited monastery in Ferrara. It still today the seat of the Benedictine nunnery, which will welcome you, and which has resided here since February 8 1257.

The Visit

Crossing the entrance threshold, you will be welcomed into the portico of the ancient cloister, where the remains of Beatrice d'Este are located. From here you can access the so-called "nuns' choir". This large room contains a real treasure: three chapels decorated with precious frescoes. The central and largest chapel is decorated with fresco wall paintings of the Ferrarese school. The two smaller side chapels, on the other hand, are the work of Giotto's school.

You may not know about...

THE MIRACLE OF BEATRICE. Every year from October to mid-March, since 1530, a transparent liquid flows out of the tombstone of Beatrice d'Este, with no real scientific explanation. This flow reaches its peak around January 18th, the anniversary of Beatrice's death, and ceases on the event of the Transito di San Benedetto on March 21st. The water is still collected in ampoules and, if you wish, you can request one from the nuns. 

MUSIC AND SPIRITUALITY. Every weekday and feast day, the monastery is the backdrop for evocative moments that combine music and spirituality: at 3 pm the Prayer of the Ninth Hour is sung in Italian with the zither while at 5 pm take place vespers accompanied by the nuns' Gregorian chants.

A TRUE ISLAND. At the time of its foundation, the Monastery stood on an island of the Po River. Even today, although perfectly integrated into the context of the historic centre, the monastic complex remains a true island of quiet and spirituality.