Station Church, 2021: XXXVIII

— Feria VI infra Dominica Passionis — Statio ad S. Stephanum in Celio monte —

The Basilica of St. Stephen in the Round on the Celian Hill (Italian: Basilica di Santo Stefano al Monte Celio, Latin: Basilica S. Stephani in Caelio Monte) is an ancient basilica and titular church in Rome, Italy. Commonly named Santo Stefano Rotondo, the church is Hungary’s “national church” in Rome, dedicated to both Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and Stephen I, the sanctified first king of Hungary brought Christianity upon his subjects.

Excavations in 1969 to 1975 revealed that the building was actually never converted from a pagan temple but was always a church, erected under Constantine I in the first half of the 4th century. Under the church there is, however, a 2nd-century mithraeum, related to the presence of the barracks of Roman soldiers in the neighborhood. The cult of Mithras was especially popular among soldiers.

In the history of the church, it was under the care of Hungarian Pauline Fathers and then the Hungarian Jesuits joined them in the care of the church. And the church became that of the Hungarian college — then later it became that of the Hungarian and German college.

Although the inside is circular, the exterior is on a cruciform plan.

The walls of the church are decorated with numerous frescoes, including those of Niccolò Circignani (Niccolò Pomarancio) and Antonio Tempesta portraying 34 scenes of martyrdom, commissioned by Gregory XIII in the 16th century. Each painting has a titulus or inscription explaining the scene and giving the name of the emperor who ordered the execution, as well as a quotation from the Bible.

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