Santo Stefano, Bologna
'To enter such a church is like entering a paradise. And it presents a vision of great majesty, and wonderful holiness. For this reason all sorts of people, from the region and from afar, come often to visit this holy place.'
The Chronicle of the mysterious and devout church and abbey of S Stefano of Bologna, anciently called Jerusalem. Francesco Patricelli, 1575.
|Santo Stefano is knows
as the 'Seven Churches'. The fact that there are only four gives some
indication of how much this extraordinary place has changed over the years.
This complex of buildings was, by the thirteenth century, the most
complete version of Jerusalem's Holy Sepulchre church, creating
what amounted to a virtual pilgrimage. The pilgrimage did not end here:
further sites around Bologna were intended to mirror significant places
in Jerusalem, making Bologna a New Jerusalem.
The history of Santo Stefano is clouded in
myth and mystery. There is evidence that it was built on the site of a
Roman temple to Isis. Legend has it that the first complex of churches
was built by St Petronius in the fifth century. Petronius, Bishop of
Bologna, had, it is claimed, visited Jerusalem and modelled the
site 'after the holy sites he had visited in that city'. * The problem
is that the present buildings date, for the most part, from the eleventh
and twelfth century, and little evidence remains to show what went
|1. Chapel of the Crucifix (Once dedicated to John the Baptist.) 2 Raised presbytery, with crypt beneath. 3. Church of the Holy Sepulchre. 4. Church of Saints Vitale and Agricola. 5) Courtyard of Pilate. 6) Church of the Trinity or Martyrium.|