In 990 AD, Willigis, Archbishop of Mainz and Archchancellor of the Holy Roman Empire, endowed a collegiate foundation in Mainz and had the church built as the “Empire’s Place of Prayer”. The constructor of the cathedral was himself laid to rest in St. Stephen’s in 1011. The new Gothic building was erected between 1290 and 1335. It stands on the foundations of the basilica built in Ottonian-pre-Romanesque style around 990. When the (gun) Powder Tower located nearby blew up in 1857, St. Stephen’s was also badly damaged. The rich baroque decoration was removed during the reconstruction.
St. Stephen’s is the only German church for which the Jewish artist Marc Chagall (1887 - 1985) created windows. He completed his final window shortly before his death at the age of 97. Nineteen later and deliberately more modest windows in the side aisles by Charles Marq, from the Atelier Jacques Simon in Reims, serve to lead up to the masterpieces. Chagall worked together with Marq for 28 years.
Anyone who has seen the famous windows should not afterwards fail to take a walk around the most beautiful late-Gothic cloister in Rhineland-Palatinate. This was the place of burial of many of the 600 canons. Tombstones and the coats of arms of the capitular families recall their memory. The coats of arms are enriched by modern keystones donated by the federal and state governments, the bishopric and city of Mainz. Works of art, such as the enthroned God the Father from the 15th century, or the late Gothic sculpture of St. Anne, the Virgin and the Christ Child, should also not be overlooked. For some years in St. Stephen’s, children have been baptised in the original Gothic baptismal font from 1330 again.References:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.