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Collegiate Church of Santo Stefano

The church was originally intended to be imposing and lavishly decorated. The first construction design had an east-facing apse, in the manner of ancient churches.

Address and contacts

Piazza Battisti, 2 - 42017 Novellara
Phone 0039 0522 654240

Opening times

From 08:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., and from 03:30 to 07:30 p.m.

How to get there

See the indication to reach Novellara

Historical note

Construction works began in 1512, but were never completed.
In 1567, Alfonso I of the Gonzaga family arranged for a new church to be built on the site of the original one, to celebrate his marriage to Victoria of Capua. The works were completed half a century later, in 1616, with the construction of the bell tower.
The 16th-century façade was remodelled around 1750, with the addition of the serliana and four niches. The statues were made in 1848.
The internal structure, which is mostly original, has a Latin cross layout with a single nave with four chapels on each side.
The church has a barrel vault, a shallow transept, a hemispherical dome, and a semicircular apse.
Entering the church from the right, you can see the chapel of the Holy Sacrament, decorated with stucco work by Giuseppe Mazza in 1690. On the left is the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary containing a sun-dial.
The artistic workmanship of the other, shallower side chapels is also of excellent quality.
The pillar at the point of intersection between the nave and the northern transept contains the tombstone of Lelio Orsi, transferred from the Church of the Carmine in 1774, bearing the family coat of arms and the epigraph “Lelio Orsi great in architecture, superior in painting and excellent in drawing”.
The two chapels in the transept, decorated by Mazza in 1704, are dedicated to the Madonna del Buon Consiglio and to Jesus on the Cross.
On the two pillars of the presbytery are the portraits of Camillo I Gonzaga and his wife Barbara Borromeo.
The most interesting paintings in the church are by pupils of Lelio Orsi and include “the Ascension of Christ” by Pietro Maria Bagnatore, “St. Michael the Archangel” by Mario Lodi, located in the left transept, and “the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence”, in the right transept.
The baptistery is also particularly beautiful, decorated with exquisite marble-work. It was donated to the church by Donna Ricciarda, sister of the last Count of Novellara in 1752.