Santo Stefano Rotondo, diagrams. Pen on paper.
Santo Stefano Rotondo
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dedication: St. Stephen Protomartyr
built: c.440ad
The round church of Santo Stefano Rotondo was for a period occupied by members of the Jesuit order, who were known as enthusiastic missionaries for the church. They commissioned the series of gruesome frescoes of torture and death which depict the last moments of the lives of many saints. These images were intended to inspire the young Jesuits as they prepared to travel to unknown lands, encouraging them to happily accept the prospect of a similarly painful saintliness. Stephen is from the greek 'Stephanos', a crown or garland. Martyrs to the church, according to tradition, earn a crown on their arrival in Heaven, and Saint Stephen was the first of these martyrs (Acts 7:58). The unusual circular shape of the church may literally be an immense crown of martyrdom in stone.