Hidden treasures

The laughing Statue of St Zeno in the Verona Basilica

Historical Curiosities
san-zeno

The laughing Statue of St Zeno in the Verona Basilica

Visitors to the city of Verona should not forget to plan a stop at the beautiful Romanesque church dedicated to the patron and 8th bishop of the city, St. Zeno.

The first church was built on the burial site of the Saint in the 4th century; it was destroyed and rebuilt several times. The present church dates back to 1138, following a devastating earthquake.

There is not much reliable information about St Zeno and much of his life has been shrouded in legends. It seems he was a native of Mauritania and for this reason he is often still referred to as 'the Black Bishop'. We do know, however, that he was the bishop of Verona from 362 to 380, the year of his death.

According to the hagiographic sources he lived in austerity and simplicity, so much so that he used to fish for his meals in the River Adige. For this he is considered the protector of the freshwater fishermen and is represented with minnows. He was cultured and erudite, educated at the school of African rhetoric.

His body is kept in the crypt under the main altar, while his most famous image is in the small apse to the left of the presbytery. It is a red coloured 12th century marble statue, painted by an anonymous artist and considered one of the icon most important icons of Verona! Looking at the statue, one is immediately struck by the fact that it is smiling, which is quite unusual for a saint. For this reason, the people from Verona affectionately call him 'the laughing St Zeno'.

In addition to the places of Romeo and Juliet, Verona has many surprises. If you are interested in a guided tour with a local expert guide we recommend our Your Own Verona: private guided tour of Verona, fully customizable according to your wishes!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: Andrea Palladio’s Tablino at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice

tablino-palladio
Big Names

More than simply the rooms where many masterpieces are exhibited, the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice are a work of art on their ow...

View

Venice: The 'Naval Battle' by Tintoretto at Doge’s Palace

Battaglia_Garda
Historical Curiosities

The ceiling of the Doge's Palace, in addition to being the largest wooden suspended ceiling in the world, is a real trove of painting m...

View

Venice: The origins of the Carnival in Venice

faliero-vitale
Local Traditions

When looking for information on the birth of the Venice Carnival, the first place to head for is St. Mark’s Basilica, the place where...

View

Verona: The Carnival in Verona

carnevale-verona
Local Traditions

When it comes to Carnival, everyone immediately thinks of Venice, but also the other cities of the Veneto region have ancient and charm...

View

Top posts

Venice: The tomb of Doge Andrea Gritti in the church of San Francesco della Vigna

Andrea_Gritti-tomba
Big Names

For the few daring visitors who decide to head to the Castello district, away from the crowds swarming around Piazza San Marco and the ...

View

Venice: Doge Pietro Tradonico and the Island of Poveglia in the Venice lagoon

poveglia-venezia
Historical Curiosities

The Island of Poveglia, in the Venice lagoon, is considered by paranormal experts as one of the world’s most haunted places, normally...

View

Padua: Donatello’s Altar in the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua

altare-donatello
Historical Curiosities

When visiting the city of Padua a not-to-be-missed monument is the magnificent Basilica dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, a Francisc...

View

Venice: The Secret Garden of Ca 'Morosini del Giardin in Cannaregio

ca-morosini-del-giardin
Unknown places & works

Venice is a magical city for many reasons, amongst them are its many hidden gardens that few are aware of! One of the most secret and f...

View