St. Stephen's Basilica

Piazza Santo Stefano, 12. (Open Map)


The Basilica of St Stefano Maggiore is situated in the heart of the Verziere. It is an ancient church of the city whose origins date back to 400 AD. It was originally dedicated to San Zaccaria and only later, in the tenth century, to Santo Stefano "in Brolo" (or Santo Stefano alla Porta), named after the historic name of the area.

The building was destroyed by fire in 1070 and rebuilt between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, adopting the Romanesque style. Since the end of 1500 the church has been the subject of a series of reconstructions including the expansion of the apse and main altar and the reconstruction of the facade. Following the collapse in 1642 the bell tower was reconstructed; between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the sacristy was built, some chapels were modernised and the lower order was restored.The church is famous for the preservation of bodies of several saints, including San Carlo Borromeo, for the baptism of the painter Michelangelo Merisi, better known as "Caravaggio", which took place in 1571 and for the assassination of Duke of Milan Galeazzo Maria Sforza in 1476, who came to the basilica for the celebration of the patron saint.

The discovery of Caravaggio’s baptism certificate, in February 2007, amongst the archival documents of the basilica preserved in the Diocesan Museum of Milan, has definitively put an end to a long dispute among scholars about which was his true birthplace.