St. Anthony of Padua

Istanbul, Turkey | C.1725

Photo Credit: @gusev.film

St. Anthony of Padua Church (Sent Antuan Bazilikası) is both the largest Catholic church and home of the largest Catholic congregation in Istanbul, Turkey. The historic church is located on İstiklal, now one of the busiest and most famous streets in the city.  

Franciscans settled in Istanbul, then Constantinople, as early as 1221. For several centuries, the Italian Catholic community was centered in Galata, moving to Pera (now Beyoğlu) around the turn of the 17th century. The community built the original St. Anthony’s in 1725 in the current location, but it was later demolished and replaced by the building we still see today.

Architects Giulio Mongeri and Eduardo de Nari, both Italians who live and died in Turkey, designed the church in Venetian Neo Gothic style. The red brick structure is in the shape of a Latin cross, and has a Romanesque crypt of the same size. 

The church and its adjacent apartment buildings, known as the St. Antoine Apartmanlaró, were completed around 1912. Notably, the future Pope John XXIII preached at the church for 10 years, and purportedly loved Istanbul and spoke fluent Turkish.

Today, the church is still run by Italian priests. Weekly masses are given in a variety of languages to serve the diverse congregation, including Italian, Polish, English, and of course, Turkish.

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