The monumental complex of Santo Stefano is a truly unique place for the whole of Christianity and should not be missed. Now a Benedictine monastery, it has 300 years of pagan history behind it, as well as 1600 years of Christian history. The only copy in the world of the Constantine temple in Jerusalem already standing by 326 AD, the Basilica was in part constructed by Saint Petronius in the 5th century in order to reproduce the places of the Passion of Christ in Bologna: the Holy Sepulchre, the Pillar of Flagellation, Saint Peter and the Cock, the Basin of Pilate, the Mount of Olives, etc. This is a route of extraordinary fascination and intimate communion with God.
According to tradition, the Greek pilgrim Theocles received from the canons of the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople an image of the Virgin Mary painted by Luke the Evangelist, and promised to take it to the Mount of the Guard. When he reached Rome, he discovered that the Mount was to be found in Bologna and the canvas was taken there in 1160. As a tribute to the image, a church was built at the top of the hill and the same church has protected the city for a thousand years. With its 666 arches, the portico that leads from the centre of Bologna to the sanctuary is the longest in the world. It makes an enjoyable spiritual walk of meditation and purification. Today this is one of the most important Mary sanctuaries in Europe.
St. Dominic, St. Catherine de 'Vigri, Blessed Imelda Lambertini and many others. You can build a path of meditation and prayer in homage to the remains of important men and women whose thoughts and actions should be today an inspiration for all.
The abbey as it appears today is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, but its roots lie as far back as the 5th century, as testified by the suggestive, crypt. The reconstruction effected by Mathilda of Canossa in 1000 A.D. is the building we see today in all its austere splendour. It is impossible to remain unaffected by its peaceful cloisters, beautiful scenery, and imposing towers. Do not miss this historical and in many ways mystical experience. There is also the possibility meetings and retreats with the Franciscan community and above all an analysis of the abbey that is a true Christian catechesis