The TWO ALTARS at either end of the transept are formed of blocks of malachite with lapis lazuli, given by Czar Nicholas I after the fire of 1823. The Altar of the Assumption of the Virgin. The mosaic of the Vatican school is based on a painting of G. Romano who had followed a design of Raffaello (Vatican Museum).

The GREGORIAN PORTICO the work of Luigi Poletti, 18311846, bears the name of Gregory XVI who continued the reconstruction work of Leo XII following the fire of 1823, and who consecrated the altar of the confession in 1840. The twelve columns of Attic marble were recovered from the nave of the ancient basilica. On one of them, in the second row on the right, is inscribed the dedication of Pope Siricius, who consecrated the great Theodosian basilica on 18 November 390.

The CHAPEL OF ST STEPHEN built in the 19th century by Poletti, is dedicated to the first Christian martyr who was stoned to death in Jerusalem. Paul was one of the persecutors: “The witnesses had placed their clothes at the feet of a young man, called Saul, [Hebrew name of Paul] … who approved the killing” (Acts 7:58; 8:1). Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin, by F. Coghetti.

The CHAPEL OF ST BENEDICT dedicated to the patriarch of western monasticism, is by Poletti (19th century).

The CHAPEL OF ST LAURENCE was reconstructed for the jubilee of 1625 by Carlo Maderno (15561629), the architect who completed the basilica of St Peter. Of the original decoration by Lanfranco (17th century) three biblical scenes remain: the rain of quails (first on the left) and two others now in the pinacotheca: the fall of manna and the veneration of the bronze serpent. The other two murals in the chapel have Eucharistic themes; they are copies by G. Grezzi (19th century): the Last Supper and the widow of Zarephath who brought bread to Elijah.

The CHAPEL OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT constructed for the jubilee of 1725. The Crucifix of polychrome wood dates from the end of the 13th century. St Bridget of Sweden, a mother and a mystic, prayed before it in 1350. In her visions she received the mission to bring the pope back from Avignon to Rome. She wrote Fifteen Prayers and founded a double religious order of both men and women. She was canonized in the 14th century and declared co-patron of Europe by Pope John Paul II. Her statue on the left as you enter is the work of Stefano Maderno (early 17th century).

The icon of the “Theotokos Hodighitria” – the Mother of God who indicates the way is a mosaic of the 13th century. On 22 April 1541, Ignatius of Loyola and his companions took their vows before it after having founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), dedicated to the evangelization of peoples. The statue of St Paul is of wood (14th century). Although it was severely damaged by the fire, the faithful in Rome wanted to retain it seeing in it a true image of the apostle.

The HOLY WATER STOUP at the entrance to the chapel of St Benedict is the work of Pietro Galli (mid-19th century): the devil tempts a child who is saved by touching the holy water.