Grotto of St Anthony of Padua – Assesse, Belgium - Atlas Obscura

Grotto of St Anthony of Padua

Assesse, Belgium

This collection of lurid religious statues tell the tales of a saint who stood down the devil. 


Built in 1903, the Grotto of St Anthony of Padua in the Belgian village of Crupet is like a statuary mix-tape of the miraculous moments from the life of the titular saint using a gaggle of unusually bright, expressive figures to illustrate the man’s legendary feats.

Nestled just a few fee behind the village’s church, the towering crag of stone was the brainchild of Father Joseph Gérard, the local curate in the first years of the 20th century. With the help of the villagers Gérard installed a total of 22 statues depicting scenes from the life of St Anthony among other figures. a scene depicting the preaching of the fish sits alongside a representation of the miracle of the mule, but the centerpiece is easily the scene of St Anthony resisting Satan’s temptation which includes a lurid, red devil figure. There is even a statue of Gérard himself kneeling in prayer. Almost all of the figures are made of painted terra cotta save for the figures of the devil, a beggar, and a priest which were all made of sturdier construction. 

Some believe that the ambitious project was actually smokescreen to distract the populace of Crupet from thinking about the government’s socialist tendencies, however there is little concrete record of this. Whether the construction of the grotto was a back-handed political maneuver or simply an eccentric showing of devotion, the eye-popping scenes stand to this day, restored and waiting to spread their tales to new visitors.      

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