Since its construction in the 5th century, the Santa Prassede Basilica in Rome has undergone several restorations and reconstructions. It is located in a narrow alley at a short distance from the Basilica of Saint Mary Major and no more than a 5 minute walk from the main railway station Termini in the Esquilino district of Rome.
Santa Prassede Basilica Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Via di Santa Prassede, 9/a – Rome (tel. +39 06 4882456). The nearest bus stop is Santa Maria Maggiore (16, 70, 71, 75, 360, 649, 714, F20). Opening hours: From 07.00 till 12.00 and from 16.00 till 18.30. Admission: Free.
The history of Prassede is described in the Passionari, a collection of saints’ lives, written by a number of monks in the 5th and the 6th centuries. It needs to be noted, however, that these are not necessarily based on actual facts.
Prassede was the daughter of a 2nd century Roman consul who had converted to Christianity. He had turned his home into a domus ecclesiae (a private dwelling where Christians secretly celebrated mass).
When the Romans found out they killed all the Christians in the house. Prassede made sure that they were all buried in the Catacombs of Priscilla. Not much later she too was murdered by the Romans.
History and description
The name of the church is a bit misleading, since Prassede never was a saint. Like her sister Pudenziana, who also gave her name to a Roman church, she was the daughter of the Senator Pudente, who once showed hospitality to Saint Peter. It is rather remarkable that the bones of the two sisters, although they never made it to sainthood, are still to be found in this church.
The two sisters can also be seen in the apse, since they are depicted next to Christ.
The Chiesa di Santa Prassede in its present form was built by Pope Adrian I, around the year 780.
It does not have a very interesting facade and makes a rather unimposing first impression, but once inside the visitor will find himself in a beautiful and spacious church.
The main attraction is the first niche on the left, called the Chapel of Saint Zeno, where beautiful Byzantine mosaics (9th century) can be admired.
Though it is claimed that part of the pillar Christ was tied to when he was being hit and martyred before his crucifixion in Jerusalem is also found in this chapel, this has never been substantiated.