Rahul Sharma (Editor)

St Stephen of the Abyssinians

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Location  Vatican City
Groundbreaking  5th century
Address  00120 Vatican City
Width  20 m
Architectural type  Church
Completed  9th century
Length  35 m
Affiliation  Catholic Church
St Stephen of the Abyssinians
Rite  Alexandrian Rite (Coptic)
Ecclesiastical or organizational status  National Church in Rome of Ethiopia
Similar  Santa Maria della Pietà in C, San Pellegrino in Vaticano, Saints Martin and Sebastia, Gregorian Tower, Sant'Anna dei Palafrenieri

St Stephen of the Abyssinians (Italian: Santo Stefano degli Abissini) 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 Alexandrian rite of the Ethiopian Catholic Church. It is one of the only standing structures in the Vatican (besides the clementine chapel, niche of the pallia, the apostolic palace complex) to survive the destruction of old St. Peter's basilica, and thus it is the oldest surviving church (in terms of architectural history) in Vatican City.



The church was, by tradition, built by Pope Leo I (ca. 400–461), and named Santo Stefano Maggiore.

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 on 26 December.


St Stephen of the Abyssinians Wikipedia

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