Holy and profane events on Saint Steven’s Day in Rome

On Saint Steven’s Day, people feel as it was still Christmas in Rome, celebrating it by holy and profane events along the whole day.

Here you are where to go and what to do to enjoy them.


Holy events on Saint Steven’s Day in Rome

On Saint Steven’s Day, all the churches in Rome celebrate the festivity by a solemn mass as Steven was the first martyr and deacon who died for being a Christ supporter.

It seems he was Greek and one of the first people to convert himself from Judaism to Christianity. He was stoned after having being dragged in the Sanhedrin and wrongly accused of being a traitor of Rome, proclaiming Jesus as God.

Before he was killed, he had made an important very reasonable speech in front of those who wanted to condemn him, but he wasn’t able to conclude it, as he was dragged outside and stoned, dying asking God to not condemn his assailants for that sin.

There is an odd legend about his life, told still nowadays. It’s said his mother wasn’t able to have children and so she went to visit the just born Jesus Christ, to homage him with the other shepherds.

Many women were hanging their children in their arms and she took a stone, to seem to be similar to them, surrounded it by a sheet, pretending it was a child and and she went to visit Jesus.

The Holy Mary understood how big her desire of being mother was so she asked her to show her the baby in her arms. When she disclosed the stone, she discovered it had become a baby. He was Steven and his mother, the Holy Mary, predicted he was born by a stone and would have died by it too.

So, there are many demonstrations of religious devotion to this saint, and the Vatican set a national festivity to celebrate it, as it is so important for the Italian country too, to be celebrated as Christmas festivity is.

On Saint Steven’s Day, the Pope tells a solemn mass in Saint Peter’s Cathedral and the same is done in many other churches in Rome.

In some of them, there are also his remains, brought in the city since the XVIII century.

For example, in the Basilica of San Pietro fuori le Mura, it is said there is the skull and one of his arms in San Luigi dei Francesi. The other parts of the body should be under the altar of the Basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura.

The story tells that just touching the rests of the saint, prestigious miracles take place and many Roman people trust them and are devoted supporters.


Profane events on Saint Steven’s Day in Rome

The Christmas festivity atmosphere continues to be spread on Saint Steven’s Day when in Rome, lots of people have lunch at home with their families.

The meal is made of rests of the great Christmas’ Eve dinner and lunch, serving pâté, Jewish artichokes, large eel and panettone, the typical dishes of the end of the year.

Other people decide to spend it outside, after having had great lunches and dinners, to work off the food eaten in the previous days.

There are also events made for children too.

You can’t miss to visit the delicious Presepio in via Cavalleggeri 5, accurately made by the Ama volunteers. Its creation is done by using more than 300 stones from all over the world. The authors, all of them Ama workers, pass on a tradition 40 years old, co-working in the creation of a Presepio attracting thousands of tourists every year, all astonished by it: there are many Mayors and Popes, as it happened in the last years, as John Paul II and Benedict XVI did.

Also the “100 presepi in Piazza del Popolo” exhibition deserves a visit, open on every non-working day, with an entrance fee.

Christmas festivities and also Saint Steven’s Day make a period in which classic music is very appreciated and there are many exhibitions in the city.

In the Methodist church near Castel Sant’Angelo, there is always the musical season: on Saint Steven’s Day, there is a peculiar plan in Rome, including the shows by the Accademia di Santa Cecilia and other famous orchestras.


A walk around the city centre in Rome

On Saint Steven’s Day, Rome is more crowded than ever, rich in tourists going around the typical Christmas markets.

The most famous one takes place in Piazza Navona and lasts all over the Christmas holidays, until the Epiphany.

You can spend delicious hours, especially with children, going around stands, Christmas lights, desserts smells, colours, music and art.

There are also some game corners around the city, where children can enjoy themselves on this relaxing day.

In some squares, such as Campo de’ Fiori and other typical Roman districts, such as Trastevere, you can find lots of them. Ancient games and inflatable castles, carousels and swings make children happy.

On Saint Steven’s Day,you can also visit important museums, such as the Vatican Museum and the Vittoriano permanent exhibition.

In the afternoon and in the evening, you can’t miss the ice-skating on the several tracks around the city, at the Eur or near the Auditorium Parco della Musica, in Flaminio district.

Rome is more beautiful at night on Saint Steven’s Day, thanks to the Christmas decorations, the Christmas trees in the squares and the magic atmosphere you can deeply taste just in this moment of the year.

Among the most recommended events to live this day as Romans do, there is the Guido Reni District festival, the Villaggio dei Popoli. There are people from all over the world exposing stands of typical objects and food, livened up by events, music, games and entertainment.

Do you want to stay in Rome?

For this location we recommend Hotel Ariston, the ideal starting point to discover Rome!

Saint Stevens Day in RomepresepioPiazza Navona

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