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The St. Stephen’s Church of Alatri dates from the late tenth century and is in the Romanesque style of the era. It was modified and enlarged during the period of the commons, in 1284, by Cardinal Gottifredo of Raynaldo according to the Italian Gothic style. The date and the name of Cardinal are carved in Gothic letters on two sheets on the doorposts of the portal and the Cardinal had played a major role during the crisis between the papacy and the German Empire. The writing follows the style of Leonini verses, a poem with rhymes in use during the Middle Ages and were invented by a man named Monk Leo.

In the sixteenth century the church was changed again when its left aisle was closed to build the Annunciation Benedictine monastery, strongly supported and designed by Bishop Ignazio Danti in 1586. The convent is still very active and was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

In the following centuries the church has undergone some more changes and the interior today is of late Baroque style. Inside you will find a seventeenth century altarpiece with Saints Stephen, Benedict and Scholastica altar, and on the left wall a painting of the Calling of Matthew (La vocazione di Matteo) painted in 1739 by Filippo Palazzetti.

Of the original medieval building remains only the trefoil door, but it was moved from its original location, and a Crosier lion. On the bell tower is a bell named by St. Benedict which dates back to the sixth century. According to tradition, this bell was donated in 528 to the early cenobite (protocenobio) monastery of San Sebastian personally by the Saint of Norcia during a visit to Alatri.



Traveller's Guide to Italy