School of Theology and Seminary Graduate Papers/Theses

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Date of Award


Document Type

Graduate Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Liturgical Studies


School of Theology and Seminary

First Advisor

R. Kevin Seasoltz, OSB

Subject Categories

Christianity | Liturgy and Worship | Other Architecture


The fifth-century church of Santo Stefano Rotondo, located on the Celian Hill in Rome, has been an architectural enigma for centuries. As one of the few ambulatory early Christian structures in Rome, it offers an innovative blend of architecture that is neither fully Western nor fully Eastern. By situating Santo Stefano Rotondo within the martyr shrines of the Constantinian building program of the fourth and fifth centuries, this paper will seek to illumine the different architectural influences that point to the original liturgical function of this church as a martyrium. The first part of this paper will address the building principles used by the architects of the fourth and fifth centuries and then move on to discuss the form and function of the basilica and martyr-shrine. The second part of the paper will examine Santo Stefano Rotondo as a martyrium case study that fuses both Eastern and Western architecture, and delve into the possible liturgical functions of the church. The paper will conclude with several observations and suggestions thatmay be ascertained from the study of this particular church.


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