Santa Pudenziana

Santa Pudenziana (20)

Santa Pudenziana is the first Christian basilica and was built between 401 and 417.

One of the curiosities of this basilica is the origin of its name, since it not at all clear who Pudentiana was exactly.

One theory is that in the 1st century AD a Roman senator named Pudens lived here and, according to the legend, put up Saint Peter here. In the 2nd century some thermal baths were built on the same spot and, later, a church was added to its interior. This church was given the name of Ecclesia Pudentiana. 

Gradually, with the passing of time, it was accepted that Pudentiana was a woman’s name, and even her life story was invented. They began by saying she was the sister of Praxedes and had helped Christian victims of the persecutions. In 1969 both Pudentiana and Praxedes were suppressed as saints, although both churches continued conserving their names.

Whatever the case, you should know that the basilica of Santa Pudenziana is considered one of the oldest churches in Rome, despite the fact that the successive restorations have gradually eliminated a major part of its charm. 

The most important and startling aspect of this church is the astounding mosaic of the apse, which has conserved all its splendour. In it you can see Jesus sitting on a throne with inlays of jewels and surrounded by 10 apostles. The fact that there are only 10 apostles is due to a poor restoration, which destroyed two of them and mutilated some of the others. Moreover, the two female figures appearing behind these apostles have been identified as Praxedes and Pudentiana.

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