BOLOGNA Church of Santo Stefano or Seven Churches
The Bolognese complex of Santo Stefano or the seven churches is certainly one of the most intriguing Italian monuments.
The basilica would have to imitate the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, offering pilgrims a comfortable alternative to the dangerous trip to the holy land. As we see, the instinct that led to build the '' Italy in miniature "has its roots here ...
They are very deep roots: the complex began to work since the time of Petronius (holy bishop of Bologna between 431 and 450) that had been a hermit in the Holy Land and he wanted to offer its citizens the same emotions he had felt.
Here the holy bishop had then reconverted a pre-existing temple to the goddess Isis. And here after the death of the holy bishop has rested, in a cell surmounted by an altar with the pulpit, until the year 2000 when Cardinal Biffi forced him to move in the cathedral entitled to himself.
From the fifth century until today the churches are crossed, confused, mixed ...
Here have worked Byzantines, Lombards, Franks until the devastation due to the passage of the Hungarians around the tenth century and then rearranged by the Benedictine care and again ... until today.
An extraordinary compendium of the history of Italy, where art, religion, power and devotion have left traces not always easy to read as it is not always easy to understand the italian history.
The worst time for the complex of Santo Stefano, it seems has been around the year 1400.
During renovations in the year 1141 it was discovered an early Christian tomb, under the floor of the church saints Vitale and Agricola, bearing the inscription "Symon".
All - in Bologna - decided to be the tomb of Simon Peter the apostle and first pope and changed the dedication of the church of Saints Vitale and Agricola to San Pietro.
The news that the Prince of the Apostles were resting in Bologna rather than in Rome came into wide use until 1400.
The alleged tomb of St. Peter in Bologna had the effect of mislead the flow of pilgrims to Rome.
In the Holy City innkeepers, shopkeepers, tourism experts of the time (but also pickpockets and prostitutes ...) began to complain: the Nordic pilgrims fact stopped to the tomb of St. Peter in Bologna instead of continuing to the shores of Tevere, and returned satisfied in their countries with loads of indulgences.
Pope Eugene IV with great alacrity ordered that the church was deconsecrated, walled the doors and translation of Simone's tomb in a secret place.
So the crowds of pilgrims resumed the Eternal City street.
Only after about seventy years old, in 1493, Pope Alexander VI allowed him to restore the building ordering to come back to be the church of Saints Vitale and Agricola, and St. Peter did not speak anymore.
In the complex of Santo Stefano stories and legends continue to overlap for centuries.
Walls, capitals, cloisters and aisles continue to speak to us and tell us the stories from Isis times to our days.
And the beautiful capital with four mermaids bicaudate in the Martyrium church, where each holds the tail of the other, seems to look with lightness and typical of Bologna sympathy, able to achieve the maximum in any situation and express it in an jazz concert under the towers pendants with South American dances.