The Collegiate Church of St. Stephan, known in German as St. Stephan zu Mainz, is a Gothic hall collegiate church located in the German city of Mainz. It is known for windows created by Marc Chagall.
St. Stephan was originally built in 990 at the order of Archbishop Willigis, who also initiated the building of Mainz Cathedral. The church was founded on top of the highest hill in the town, most likely on behalf of Theophanu, the widow of Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor. Willigis intended the church to be a site of prayer for the Empire.
The provost of the Collegiate Church administered one of the archdiaconates (a medieval organizational form similar to today's diaconates) of the Archbishopric of Mainz.
The current church building dates from the late medieval era; construction of the main area of the church began in about 1267 and was completed in 1340. The successional building kept the guidelines of the floor plan of the original Willigis building and with it the design as a double choir church. St. Stephan is the oldest Gothic hall church in the Upper Rhine district, and is (besides Mainz Cathedral) the most important church in the city of Mainz.
View of the Gothic cloister of St. Stephan, rebuilt 1968-71 after heavy destruction in World War II
Only a few changes have been made to the church since the 14th century. The cloister, for instance, was added between 1462 and 1499 to the southern side of the church, and the outer face of the church was updated during the Baroque period. In 1857 a great explosion in a nearby powder magazine (Mainz was a federal fortress in the 19th century) destroyed the baroque facing of the church.
St. Stephan was heavily damaged in the cause of the bombing of Mainz in World War II. The cloister was heavily damaged and was rebuilt between 1968 and 1971; the restoration of the huge western belfry was also completed at that time, albeit with some difficulty.