The church of Santo Stefano was first built by the Hermits of St Augustine in the late 13th century and subsequently expanded and modified. It has a characteristic ship's keel ceiling (carena di nave) which was probably made in the Arsenale. The interior is one of Venice's most memorable and impressive. Divided into a nave and two aisles, the walls are painted and guilded in a diamond and acanthus-leaf pattern. The church has had to be reconsecrated six times because of, according to Jan Morris, 'repeated bloodshed within its walls'. The first being when Girolamo Bonifazio wounded a monk called Fra Francesco Basadonna on Whit Sunday 1348. Further such incidents occurred in 1556, 1561, 1567, 1583 and 1594. The monastery attached to the church was suppressed in 1810 and the buildings now house the Ministero delle Finanze. Canova's first Venetian studio was in the cloister of Santo Stefano. The Campo of Santo Stefano was used for bullfights until 1802, and beneath the church runs a canal that can be accessed at low tide.
- Lorenzetti, Venice and Its Lagoon: Historical-Artistic Guide (Rome: Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato, 1961) as translated and with supplementary content by Taryn Marie Zarrillo, 2012/13