Church of St. Stephen in Dubrovnik

If you’ll walk only through the main streets in the old town of Dubrovnik you’ll never notice the remains of church of St. Stephen in Dubrovnik. It is very likely that you’ll ‘skip it’ while walking on the city walls of Dubrovnik as well. The sea and island Lokrum will ‘book’ your view for sure.

Southwest of Dubrovnik Cathedral there are remains of the Romanesque church of St. Stephen, collapsed in the earthquake in 1667. The church was mentioned in 949 by Constantine VII. Porfirogenet in his book “About the Management of the Empire”. He writes about the former church of St. Stephen as “the central, most important building in Dubrovnik”, which houses the relics of St. Pancras.

The history of the first, small church, says that king Pavlimir on his return from Rome around 920 gave great charity to this church and the stored there the power of five saints who he brought from Rome, of St. Nereus, St. Achilles, St. Pancras, St. Domitila and St. Petronila (daughter of St. Peter).

Later, on the same place, a larger church of St. Stephen was built by Croatian king Stjepan Miroslav and his wife Queen Margarita in 948, when they together visited Dubrovnik. They decorated the church richly. Queen Margarita donated two pieces of wood of the Holy Cross, which she brought with her.

Dubrovnik historians report that the king had given (with his sovereign authority) land to the city of Dubrovnik what is now known as Župa, Brgat, Šumet, Rijeka Dubrovačka and Zaton provided that in those places they build the church of St. Stephen of the same size as the one in the old town of Dubrovnik.

After the death of King Stephen, Queen Margarita returned to Dubrovnik where she became a nun. The Queen has also built St. Margaret’s Church in Dubrovnik. After her death she was buried somewhere in front of the church of St. Stephen. Later, in 1590, the Dubrovnik noble Junij Gradić unearthed the bones from the church and around it and buried them in a new grave.

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