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St. Stephen Protomartyr Roman Catholic Church

Which of these is not like the others? St. Stephen Protomartyr Roman Catholic Church is an interesting parish, tucked away on a beautiful, quiet tree-lined street in the Holly Hills neighborhood on Wilmington Avenue.

St. Stephen was the first martyr of the Christian church, killed by stoning, hence his superlative πρότομάρτυρας in Greek, which means literally “first witness.” By the way, Thekla Avenue in Walnut Park is named after the first woman martyr. One of the more forgotten but stunning Paleo Christian churches of the same name in Rome is Santo Stefano Rotondo on the north end of the Caelian Hill, near the Baths of Caracalla.

While the majority of the buildings are constructed in the Tudor Revival style, and are quite elegant, the church itself is boldly Modernist, clearly replacing an earlier sanctuary, and it works.

See interior photographs of the amazing Emil Frei stained glass windows; the church was designed by A.F and Arthur Stauder, just like St. Joan of Arc.

While the church is Modernist, the roof still is in keeping with the slate shingles of the older buildings.

The rectory looks like an English cottage out of the Moors; it is lightly ornamented but is constructed in the same buff-colored brick of the church campus and many of the houses in the neighborhood.

The most ornament appears in the central entrance portal, which welcomes the visitor to the formal entry to the house.

The Modernist glass-enclosed portico that attaches the rectory to the church works well, in limestone, not detracting from the main buildings.

However, the roof continues the same theme in the mottled slate tilework.

The campanile, like the Modernist churches in the Archdiocese, is set apart as a separate independent structure, much as they long have been in Italian ecclesiastic architecture.

Moving to the east side of the church past the campanile, we reach the parish school, which is a stout building continuing the Tudor Revival style.

On the other side of the main bulk of the school is another wing that gives the impression of an English village.

The parish is thriving and a new parish center was built several years ago.

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