St Stephen of the Abyssinians

From Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Template:Infobox religious building

St Stephen of the Abyssinians (Template:Lang-it) is a Roman Catholic church located in Vatican City. The church dedicated to Stephen the Protomartyr is the national church of Ethiopia. The liturgy is celebrated according to the Alexandrine rite of the Ethiopian Catholic Church. It is the oldest surviving church in the Vatican.<ref name="MMA"/>


The church was built by Pope Leo I (ca. 400–461), and named Santo Stefano Maggiore. It stands above the ruins of a pagan temple dedicated to Vesta. It was originally built as a circular building with twenty Corinthian columns, which is a common plan for a temple of Vesta.

It was rebuilt in 1159 under Pope Alexander III, who also built a monastery for Ethiopian monks next to it.

In 1479, Pope Sixtus IV restored the church and assigned it to the Coptic monks in the city. It was at this time that the name was changed to reflect that it was served by Ethiopians (Abyssinian). It was altered under Pope Gregory XI (1700–1721), and again in 1928.


The façade is in the style of the early 18th century. The 12th century doorway, decorated with the Lamb and the Cross, has been preserved.


The church has a single nave with ancient columns along the sides. The most important work of art is a fresco of the Madonna with Child in the Roman style from the 15th century.


The Feast of St. Stephen is celebrated with great solemnity on 26 December.

See also

  • Index of Vatican City-related articles




External links

Template:Vatican City topics