Santa Prassede
The Basilica of Saint Praxedes , commonly known in Italian as Santa Prassede, is an ancient titular church and minor basilica
Minor basilica
Minor basilica is a title given to some Roman Catholic churches. By canon law no Catholic church can be honoured with the title of basilica unless by apostolic grant or from immemorial custom....

 in Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, located near the papal basilica of Saint Mary Major. The current Cardinal Priest of Titulus Sancta Praxedis is Paul Poupard.


The church in its current form was commissioned by Pope Hadrian I around the year 780, and built on top of the remains of a 5th century structure and was designed to house the bones of Saint Praxedes  and Saint Pudentiana , the daughters of Saint Pudens
Saint Pudens
Saint Pudens was an early Christian saint and martyr. 100px| left| thumb| Russian [[icon]].He is mentioned as a layman of the Roman Church in 2 Timothy 4:21. According to tradition, he lodged Saint Peter and was baptised by him, and was martyred under Nero...

, traditionally St. Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

's first Christian convert in Rome. The two female saints were murdered for providing Christian burial for early martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

s in defiance of Roman law. The basilica was enlarged and decorated by Pope Paschal I
Pope Paschal I
Pope Saint Paschal I was pope from January 25, 817 to February 11, 824. A native of Rome and son of Bonosus, he was raised to the pontificate by the acclamation of the clergy, shortly after the death of Pope Stephen IV, and before the sanction of the emperor Louis the Pious had been obtained - a...

 in c. 822.

Pope Paschal, who reigned 817-824, was at the forefront of the Carolingian Renaissance
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

 started and advocated by the emperor Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

. They desired to get back to the foundations of Christianity theologically and artistically. Paschal, thus, began two, linked, ambitious programs: the recovery of martyrs' bones from the catacombs of Rome and an almost unprecedented church building campaign. Paschal dug up numerous skeletons and transplanted them to this church. The Titulus S. Praxedis was established by Pope Evaristus
Pope Evaristus
Pope Saint Evaristus is accounted the fifth Pope, holding office from c. 99 to 107 AD or from 99 to 108. He was also known as Aristus....

, around 112.

The church provided the inspiration for Robert Browning
Robert Browning
Robert Browning was an English poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologues, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets.-Early years:...

's poem "The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church."


The main altarpiece is a canvas of St Praxedes Gathering the Blood of the Martyrs (c. 1730-35) by Domenico Muratori.


The most famous element of the church is the mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...

 decorative program. Paschal hired a team of professional mosaicists to complete the work in the apse, the apsidal arch, and the triumphal arch. In the apse, Jesus is in the center, flanked by Sts. Peter and Paul who present Prassede and Pudenziana to God. On the far left is Paschal, with the square halo of the living, presenting a model of the church as an offering to Jesus. Below runs an inscription of Paschal's, hoping that this offering will be sufficient to secure his place in heaven.

On the apsidal arch are twelve men on each side, holding wreaths of victory, welcoming the souls into heaven. Above them are symbols of the four Gospel writers: Mark, the lion; Matthew, the man; Luke, the bull; and John, the eagle, as they surround a lamb on a throne, a symbol of Christ's eventual return to Earth.
Though those mosaics as well as those in the Saint Zeno chapel, a funerary chapel Paschal built for his mother, Theodora, are the best-known aspects of the church, an intriguing and relatively hidden aspect are ancient frescoes. Ascending a spiral staircase, one enters a small room, covered in scaffolding. However, on the wall is a fresco cycle dating most likely from the 8th century. The frescoes depict probably the life-cycle of the name saint of the church, Praxedes.

Pillar of the flogging

Santa Prassede also houses a segment of the alleged pillar upon which Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

  was flogged and tortured
Flagellation of Christ
The Flagellation of Christ, sometimes known as Christ at the Column or the Scourging at the Pillar, is a scene from the Passion of Christ very frequently shown in Christian art, in cycles of the Passion or the larger subject of the Life of Christ. It is the fourth station of the modern alternate...

 before his crucifixion in Jerusalem. The relic is alleged to have been retrieved in the early 4th century AD by Saint Helena
Saint Helena
Saint Helena , named after St Helena of Constantinople, is an island of volcanic origin in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha which also includes Ascension Island and the islands of Tristan da Cunha...

 (mother of the Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 Constantine I
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

) who at the age of eighty undertook a pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

 to Golgotha in the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

 to found churches for Christian worship and to collect relics associated with the crucifixion of Jesus in Calvary
Calvary or Golgotha was the site, outside of ancient Jerusalem’s early first century walls, at which the crucifixion of Jesus is said to have occurred. Calvary and Golgotha are the English names for the site used in Western Christianity...

. Among these legendary relics retrieved by Helena, which included pieces of the True Cross
True Cross
The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a Christian tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.According to post-Nicene historians, Socrates Scholasticus and others, the Empress Helena The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a...

 (now housed in the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
The Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem is a Roman Catholic parish church and minor basilica in Rome, Italy. It is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome....

, also in Rome) and wood from the Jesus' crib, was the segment of the pillar now housed in Santa Prassede. The authenticity of these relics, including the Santa Prassede pillar, is disputed by historians and Christians alike, due to lack of forensic evidence and the massive proliferation of fake relics during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...



Among known titulars of this see are Lambertus Scannabecchi (later Pope Honorius II
Pope Honorius II
Pope Honorius II , born Lamberto Scannabecchi, was pope from December 21, 1124, to February 13, 1130. Although from a humble background, his obvious intellect and outstanding abilities saw him promoted through the ecclesiastical hierarchy...

, c. 1099), Ubaldo Allucingoli (later Pope Lucius III
Pope Lucius III
Pope Lucius III , born Ubaldo, was pope from 1 September 1181 to his death.A native of the independent republic of Lucca, he was born ca. 1100 as Ubaldo, son of Orlando. He is commonly referred to as a member of the aristocratic family of Allucingoli, but this is not proven...

, 1141), Alain de Coëtivy
Alain de Coëtivy
Alain de Coëtivy was a French prelate from a Breton noble family. He was bishop of Avignon, Uzès, Nîmes and of Dol, titular cardinal of Santa Prassede, then cardinal-bishop of Palestrina and cardinal-bishop of Sabina....

 (1448), Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte (later Pope Julius III
Pope Julius III
Pope Julius III , born Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte, was Pope from 7 February 1550 to 1555....

, 1542-1543), Saint Charles Borromeo
Charles Borromeo
Charles Borromeo was the cardinal archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Milan from 1564 to 1584. He was a leading figure during the Counter-Reformation and was responsible for significant reforms in the Catholic Church, including the founding of seminaries for the education of priests...

 (1538-1584), Rafael Merry del Val (1903-1930).

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