Saturday, December 27, 2014

Rome: the Basilica of Santa Pudenziana and the Basilica di Santa Prassede

Ed wasn't feeling well today, so I rescheduled our visit to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums and in the afternoon went out exploring our neighborhood. This afternoon, since we hadn't anything in particular planned, I decided to investigate some local churches: the Basilica di Santa Prassede and the Basilica of Santa Pudenziana, sisters and the daughter of Saint Pudens, traditionally believed to be St. Paul's first Christian convert in Rome. I had planned to visit another church or two, but it was starting to get late and was rainy, so I may explore more tomorrow.

I first went to the Basilica of Santa Pudenziana, a fourth century church recognized as the oldest place of Christian worship in Rome; it was dedicated to Saint Pudentiana, sister of Saint Praxedis (whose basilica I'd visit next) and daughter of Saint Pudens. It has been suggested that there was no such person as Pudentiana, the name having originated as an adjective used to describe the house of Pudens (Domus Pudentiana) - this was mistaken for the name of a female by later generations. Still, it felt like an ancient church, with mosaic tiles on the floor, and mosaics in the apse that date from the end of the fourth century (during the pontificate of Innocent I).

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

There were five chapels, some of which I couldn't enter (they were gated shut), and it was so dark inside it was difficult to see many details anyway, so I didn't get many pictures. There was a small courtyard off to the side as well, and another room I wasn't sure I was allowed to enter, so I stayed out. The courtyard, though, contains frescoes from the 11th century. The Basilica itself was below street level and had a mid-size courtyard in between the stairs and the church. These are the stairs leading up to the gate and the street.

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

Right around the corner from our hotel is the Basilica di Santa Prassede, which was commissioned by Pope Hadrian I around the year 780 and built on top of the remains of a 5th century structure; it was designed to house the bones of Saint Praxedes and Saint Pudenziana. The two female saints were murdered for providing Christian burial for early martyrs in defiance of Roman law. The basilica was enlarged and decorated by Pope Paschal I in c. 822. Santa Prassede (alternately known as Saint Praxedes) has gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous mosaic work in the church, especially in the San Zeno chapel (this is the ceiling).

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

While the mosaics in this basilica were really dazzling, as with so many of these churches, the floors are beautiful, too.

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

It is also believed that part of the original column which Christ was tied to and flagellated is housed here.
From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

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