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The church is located in the campo of the same name, Santo Stefano, between the Accademia bridge and campo Sant’Angelo in the direction of San Marco, in the center of which stands the monument to Niccolò Tommaseo, writer and patriot.
The church was built in the XIII century by the friars of the Order of St Augustine who wanted to dedicate it to the first martyr of Christianity.
Bartolomeo Querini, Bishop of Castello, laid the foundation stone in 1294, and the work was completed in 1325 thanks to the Serenissima Repubblica which contributed substantial funding. The external marble portal is the work of Bartolomeo Bon (1442) and the interior is divided into three naves supported by columns that hold up the carena di nave (ship keel) ceiling.
Entering into the right aisle we find the altar with the altarpiece of Nicolò Bambini entitled The Birth of Mary, on the following altar, dedicated to St Aloysius Gonzaga, St Anthony Abbot and St Francis Xavier we admire the altarpiece of Giuseppe Angeli, and on the next you can find the altarpiece of Jacopo Marieschi depicting the Virgin with Saints John of Nepomuk and Lucy. Finally on the following altar, dedicated to St Augustine, we can see the work of Giustino Menescardi entitled St Augustine drives out the heretics.
Entering the left aisle we can find the altar of the Madonna of the Holy Belt with the altarpiece of Leonardo Corona, then that of the Our Lady of Sorrows with the altarpiece of Antonio Matteini, followed by the altar dedicated to St Nicholas of Tolentino with a canvas depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, then the altar of St Stephen with the Martyrdom of St Stephen, work of Antonio Ferrari detto Foler, and finally the next altar with an altarpiece by Girolamo Brusaferro The Madonna and Child.
Some of the altars inside date back to the Eighteenth century, while the main altar - a Baroque masterpiece - dates back to the Seventeenth century and is the work of Angelo Panizza known as tajapiera (stonecutter).
The church is rich in works of art enclosed inside the sacristy and the cloister of sculptures. Within the sacristy we can find the works by Jacopo Tintoretto such as the Last Supper, Christ Praying in the Olive Grove, The Washing of the Feet, and works by Antonio Vivarini, also known as Antonio da Murano, such as St Lawrence Martyr and St Nicholas of Bari, to list the most important.
Inside the sculpture cloister we can find the funerary stele of Senator Giovanni Falier and a base-relief by Antonio Canova.