Santa Pudenziana
The basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

 of Santa Pudenziana is a 4th century church in
Churches of Rome
There are more than 900 churches in Rome. Most, but not all, of these are Roman Catholic, with some notable Roman Catholic Marian churches.The first churches of Rome originated in places where Christians met. They were divided into three categories:...

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...

, dedicated to Saint Pudentiana
Pudentiana is a traditional Christian saint of the 2nd century. She is sometimes called Potentiana and is often coupled with her sister, Praxedes....

, sister of Saint Praxedis and daughter 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...

. It is the national church of the Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...


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.


The church of Santa Pudenziana is recognized as the oldest place of Christian worship in Rome. It was built over a 2nd century house (probably during the pontificate of the pontificate of Pius I  (140–155) ) and re-uses part of a bath facility still visible in the structure of the apse. This church was the residence of the pope until, in 313, emperor Constantine
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...

 offered them the Lateran Palace
Lateran Palace
The Lateran Palace , formally the Apostolic Palace of the Lateran , is an ancient palace of the Roman Empire and later the main Papal residence....

. In the 4th century, during the pontificate of Pope Siricius
Pope Siricius
Pope Saint Siricius, Bishop of Rome from December 384 until his death on 26 November 399, was successor to Damasus I and was himself succeeded by Anastasius I....

, the building was transformed into a three-naved church. In the acts of the synod of 499, the church bears the titulus Pudentis, indicating that the administration of the sacraments was allowed.
The church is situated at a lower level. One enters through wrought iron gates. Steps (added in the 19th century) spring down to the square courtyard from both sides of the entrance. The architrave
An architrave is the lintel or beam that rests on the capitals of the columns. It is an architectural element in Classical architecture.-Classical architecture:...

 of the entrance hall of the faded façade (1870) contains a marble frieze
thumb|267px|Frieze of the [[Tower of the Winds]], AthensIn architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon...

 that used to belong to a portal
Portal (architecture)
Portal is a general term describing an opening in the walls of a building, gate or fortification, and especially a grand entrance to an important structure. Doors, metal gates or portcullis in the opening can be used to control entry or exit. The surface surrounding the opening may be made of...

 from the 11th century. It is a significant work of medieval sculpture in Rome. It shows (from left to right) Pastore (the first church owner), Pudenziana, Prassede and their father Pudens. The columns in the nave were part of the original basilica structure.

The Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 belltower was added in the early 13th century. Restorations of 1588 by Francesco da Volterra, on orders from cardinal Enrico Caetani, Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, transformed the three naves into one and a dome
A dome is a structural element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures made of various materials have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory....

 was added, also designed by Francesco da Volterra. The painting of Angels and Saints before the Saviour on the dome is a fresco by Pomerancio. During these last restorations some fragments of a Laocoön
Laocoön the son of Acoetes is a figure in Greek and Roman mythology.-History:Laocoön is a Trojan priest of Poseidon , whose rules he had defied, either by marrying and having sons, or by having committed an impiety by making love with his wife in the presence of a cult image in a sanctuary...

 group were found that were larger than those in the Vatican. As no one was willing to pay extra for this find, they filled up the hole in the ground. These fragments were never recovered. The façade was renewed in 1870 and frescoes were added by Pietro Gagliardi.

The right side of the present basilica was part of a Roman bath house dating from the reign of emperor Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...



On the wall behind the high altar are three paintings made in 1803 by Bernardino Nocchi representing (from left to right): St.Timotheus
Symphorian and Timotheus
Saints Timotheus and Symphorian are venerated together as saints by the Catholic Church and share the same feast day , though the lives of the two saints are not related.-Timotheus:...

, The Glory of St. Pudentiana and St. Novatus.
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...

s in the apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

 are late Roman art. They date from the end of the 4th century during the pontificate of Innocent I. They were restored in the 16th century. They are among the oldest Christian mosaics in Rome and one of the most striking mosaics outside of Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

. They were deemed the most beautiful mosaics in Rome by the 19th century historian Ferdinand Gregorovius
Ferdinand Gregorovius
Ferdinand Gregorovius was a German historian who specialized in the medieval history of Rome. He is best known for Wanderjahre in Italien, his account of the walks he took through Italy in the 1850s, and the monumental Die Geschichte der Stadt Rom im Mittelalter , a classic for Medieval and early...


This mosaic is remarkable for its iconography
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

. Christ is represented as a human figure rather than as a symbol, such as lamb or the good shepherd, as He was in very early Christian images. The regal nature of this representation prefigures the majestic bearing of Christ as depicted in Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 mosaics. Christ sits on a jewel encrusted throne, wearing a golden toga
The toga, a distinctive garment of Ancient Rome, was a cloth of perhaps 20 ft in length which was wrapped around the body and was generally worn over a tunic. The toga was made of wool, and the tunic under it often was made of linen. After the 2nd century BC, the toga was a garment worn...

 with a purple trim (a sign of imperial authority and emphasizing the authority of Christ and His Church). He poses as a classical Roman teacher with His right Hand extended. Christ wears a halo
Halo (religious iconography)
A halo is a ring of light that surrounds a person in art. They have been used in the iconography of many religions to indicate holy or sacred figures, and have at various periods also been used in images of rulers or heroes...

 and holds in His left Hand the text: "Dominus conservator ecclesiae Pudentianae" (The Lord is the preserver of the church of Pudenziana). He sits among his apostles, two of which have been removed during restoration. The apostles wear senatorial togas. They all have individual expressions and face the spectator. The lower part of the mosaic has been removed during the restoration in the late 16th century. The mosaics of the apostles on the right side have been lost in the course of time and are replaced by new, but rather blank, mosaics. Two female figures (representing "Church" and "Synagogue") hold a wreath above the head of St. Peter and Paul. Above them the roofs and domes of heavenly Jerusalem (or, in another interpretation, the churches built by the emperor Constantine in Jerusalem) are depicted. Above Christ stands a large jewel encrusted cross on a hill (Golgotha), as a sign of the triumph of Christ, amidst the Christian symbols of the Four Evangelists
Four Evangelists
In Christian tradition the Four Evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the authors attributed with the creation of the four Gospel accounts in the New Testament that bear the following titles:*Gospel according to Matthew*Gospel according to Mark...

. These iconographic
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

 symbols (angel, lion, ox and eagle) are the oldest still existing representations of the Evangelists. The backdrop is a blue sky with an orange sunset.


  • The Peter chapel, on the left side of the apse, contains a part of the table at which Saint Peter
    Saint Peter
    Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

     would have held the celebration of the Eucharist
    The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

     in the house of Saint Pudens. The rest of the table is embedded in the papal altar of St. John Lateran. The sculpture on the altar depicts "Christ delivering the keys of Heaven to St. Peter" (1594) by the architect and sculptor Giacomo della Porta
    Giacomo della Porta
    Giacomo della Porta was an Italian architect and sculptor, who worked on many important buildings in Rome, including St. Peter's Basilica. He was born at Porlezza, Lombardy and died in Rome.-Biography:...

    . In the same chapel there are two bronze slabs in the wall, explaining that here St. Peter was given hospitality and that St. Peter offered for the first time in Rome bread and wine as a consecration of the Eucharist. The pavement is ancient. A door opens into a cortile with a small chapel that contains fresco
    Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

    es from the 11th century.
  • Chapel of the Crucifix: contains a bronze crucifix by Achille Tamburini.
  • Chapel of the Madonna of Mercy: contains the painting The Nativity of the Madonna by Lazarro Baldi
  • Chapel of St. Bernard: contains a painting of St Benedict and St Catherine of Siena
  • Caetani chapel: This chapel for Caetani family (family of pope Boniface VIII) was designed by Capriano da Volterra in 1588 and, after his death in 1601, completed by Carlo Maderno
    Carlo Maderno
    Carlo Maderno was a Swiss-Italian architect, born in Ticino, who is remembered as one of the fathers of Baroque architecture. His façades of Santa Susanna, St. Peter's Basilica and Sant'Andrea della Valle were of key importance in the evolution of the Italian Baroque...

    . The mosaics on the floor are notable. The columns of Lumachella  marble. The relief (1599) above the altar is by Pier Paolo Olivieri and depicts The Adoration of the Magi. Giovanni Paolo Rossetti painted St. Praxedes and Pudenziana collecting the Blood of the Martyrs in 1621. He also painted the fresco of the Evangelist in the ceiling, to a design by Federico Zuccari
    Federico Zuccari
    Federico Zuccari, also known as Federigo Zuccaro , was an Italian Mannerist painter and architect, active both in Italy and abroad.-Biography:Zuccari was born at Sant'Angelo in Vado, near Urbino ....


The statue of St Pudenziana in a niche is by Claude Adam, dating from c. 1650. The sisters’ well stands just outside the Caetani chapel in the left aisle, which is said to contain the relics of 3,000 early martyrs, many of which were brought here and hidden by Saints Pudentiana and Praxedes. This is marked by a square porphyry
Porphyry (geology)
Porphyry is a variety of igneous rock consisting of large-grained crystals, such as feldspar or quartz, dispersed in a fine-grained feldspathic matrix or groundmass. The larger crystals are called phenocrysts...

 slab in the floor.

The Cardinal Priest of the Titulus S. Pudentianae is Joachim Meisner. One of the former Cardinal Priests of this basilica was Cardinal Luciano Bonaparte, great-nephew of the emperor Napoleon I
Napoleon I
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...


In 1969 the names of Pudentiana and her sister Praxedes have been removed from the Roman Catholic calendar of saints
Roman Catholic calendar of saints
The General Roman Calendar indicates the days of the year to which are assigned the liturgical celebrations of saints and of the mysteries of the Lord that are to be observed wherever the Roman Rite is used...


External links

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