Thursday, April 19, 2018

VERONA 2017: The Santo Stefano Church

So, after the Santa Maria in Organo church, followed by the Roman theater (remember?), we next stopped at the Santo Stefano church right next door.

That would be the green dot.

It was consecrated in 421 and was the burial site for the bishops of Verona for 4 centuries.
For a period of time it was the duomo/cathedral of the city.
It is one of the city's oldest churches.

We had seen the octagonal bell tower first before seeing the church.

This drawing (from Google images) helps.  

As usually happens, we're "short of eyes" when we first enter a church.  Where to start?
In this case, we entered the "lower church"...

where we were met by a volunteer who made it clear she would guide/assist us.
While we prefer to wander about on our  own, we later discovered that this church
has locked parts that can only be seen through guides.
And there were guides there that day because of the Verona Minor Hierusalem project,
a "small Jerusalem" experience for those who can't travel to the Holy Land.

She (our guide) immediately started with the amazing frescoes everywhere.

These are the Musical Angels by Domenico Brusasorzi, circa 1552.

She then took us down to the crypt...

where we saw a 14th century statue of St. Peter in his chair.
(Hmmm.  Where was St. Stefano?)

[I'm not sure I took any other photos in the crypt???  See why we don't usually like guides?]

To be honest, this church, along with the sequence of my images, is totally confusing to me.
 "The interior of the church has three naves, but with a single ceiling,
which has a cross, crypt and raised presbytery."

It took me awhile to figure out that this image (above)
is the main altar of the presbytery, which is raised from the lower church.

Here's a view from the lower church (from Google images), by Willem-Jan vander Zanden.

Walking down from the main altar...our guide then took us to the locked apse.

At least I think this is the locked apse, apparently something not everyone gets to see.
The definition of an apse is "a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome."

It looks more like a crypt to me...but I believe this was indeed the part under lock and key?
And I believe it's behind the main floor, under the raised altar (are you following this?). 

It looks like it fits the description of an apse, right?!
I have a feeling we were very lucky to see it that day.

Back to the main/lower church (with the stairs to the altar), we were left on our own...

to view the side chapels...

and to light a candle for someone.
No, I'm not a Roman Catholic but I'm loving the sentiment behind "lighting a candle" for someone.
It's the meditative action in that moment that is becoming special for me.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

On that note, as we left the church, these three keystones showed their faces to us.
What more is there to say??!!


  1. You had me at 421. People prayed in style! Beautiful! The crypt wouldn’t have been my favourite place!

    1. I just really wish I knew what the crypt looked like, Marie, so are you saying the apse wouldn't be your favorite place? See how confused I still am!

  2. This was an amazing church and indeed there were some parts that did not make sense. I think to remember(don't hold me to it) that the locked apse was a secret place where there were sermons behind locked doors and only for special people??
    Nevertheless I think we saw some unique fresco's and "how old it is" is even for me mind blowing. A wonderful post, IHVJ.

    1. I thought I'd find plenty of articles to Google about this place, Astrid, but...lo and behold...not that much. It makes me want to go back! At least we saw a lot to hold our attention.

  3. Just wow, what a lot of beauty and interest in this amazing church!

    1. I know, Ruth. I just wish I had it all a bit clearer in my mind's eye!

  4. I can’t recall if we got to Verona, but we did spend much of the trip singing, “We open in Venice…” for much of the trip. If we got to Verona, it’s all a blur. Glad you were able, finally, to make sense of the church, or did you?

    1. Verona is two hours away by train, Ted, where we spent 4 full days after our 7 days in Venice. We're so glad we did! And yes, I do think I've finally figured out this church. But I'm totally confused as to why I have no other photos of the crypt??? Maybe the guide was in my way????