The virtual exhibition The Santa Caterina complex, from monastery to university. A treasure chest of history, art and culture intends to bring to the public's attention the historical-artistic events of the Santa Caterina complex, currently home to the Department and Library of Statistical Sciences of the University of Padova.
The foundation of the structure, used as a monastery of Augustinian nuns of S. Maria Maddalena delle Illuminate ("Mary Magdalene of the Enlightened"), was commissioned at the beginning of the seventeenth century by the bishop of Padova, and built near the parish church of Santa Caterina, the oldest building and from at least 1377 the seat of ceremonies of the Collegio dei Giuristi of the Studium patavino.
Destined to welcome young women without means and with a “sinful” past, for the purpose of redeeming them, the small monastery survived until the first decade of the nineteenth century.
After a period of closure and abandonment, the complex was used as a pious institution with the same purpose of welcoming young girls taken from the streets; an address that the institute maintained until the last century, converting, in the twentieth century, to a boarding school for primary school education.
A transformation in line with the change in society, which is increasingly sensitive to the issue of child education, which is widespread and given both to boys and girls, and in the promotion of which the city of Padova distinguished itself from the outset.
The various stages in the life of the building, its spaces and the works of art still present inside it, are presented in the first two sections of the exhibition, in an variegated itinerary rich in testimonies, from the graphic documents preserved in the State Archives of Padova and in the Civic Library, to the photographs and stories of those who lived within its walls, a precious source of information that deserves to be handed down and disseminated.
The third section of the exhibition has been reserved for the church of Santa Caterina, still today a point of reference for the university and the ceremonies of the academic corpus; while, in conclusion, there is space for a closer examination of the surrounding area: an urban context with strongly defined characteristics, in which the first settlements date back to the Paleo-Venetian and Roman ages, as demonstrated by the numerous testimonies that emerged from the excavations, up to the Middle Ages and the Modern Age, when this sector of the city was increasingly configured with hospital and welfare purposes. The entire area was thus enhanced, to the benefit of those who wanted to learn more about the history of this part of Padova over the centuries.