The church obtained the abbatial benefices and dignity by Pope Pius VII and the Emperor Francis II of Austria gave to the archpriest abbot bishop the decoration of St Stephen's Cross. The works started in 1840 thanks to the allowance of 100,000 liras by the noble Giovanni Vicenza Ponzone. It was planned by the architect Fermo Zuccari together with the bell tower. The latter was built only later, between 1897 and 1899, thanks to Bianca Contesini's legacy.
The building was finished in 1846 with the closure of the dome. The Cathedral was consecrated and opened in 1861. It has a Greek-cross plan, divided in four pillars and a nave and two aisles with apsidal choir and lateral chapels. A high arched Pronaos works as vestibule. The dome is 60m high and is supported by a 16-arch drum. It preserves two monuments by Pietro Civeri dating back to 1874 celebrating Giovanni Vicenza Ponzone and Luigi Chiozzi, the main donors.
In the choir altarpiece there is a painting ordered by the local people to G.Diotti in 1811, after that "Madonna con i Santi Stefano e Giovanni Battista" by Parmigianino was moved to the collection of the Duke of Modena Francis I and was replaced with an 18th century copy of Ghislina, situated now in the Presbytery. Among the other paintings, "Le quattro Virtù Cardinali", ascribed to Guglielmo Caccia (Moncalvo), "L'ultima cena" and "S.Pietro in carcere" by G.B. Trotti (Malosso), "Gesù nell'orto" by G. Cavassetti, and "L'adorazione dei Magi" by C. Agosta are worth a mention.
At the entrance of the Presbytery there are plaster statues made by G.Albertelli in 1771 representing the Saints Peter and Paul. The niches preserve statues of 28 Saints in white stone from Vicenza, created in 1930 by Adriano and Pierino Ferraroni. The decoration of the apsidal conch representing St Stephen's martyrodom by Pietro Verzetti is coeval. The ancient abbot's house with the oratory is annexed to the Cathedral and preserves frescoes dating back to the 18th century. It houses an archive and a library very rich in documents.
Location: Casalmaggiore (CR) Region: Lombardy