Today’s station church was Santa Pudenziana, which I always get mixed up with her sister’s church, Santa Prassede. Pudentiana and Praxedes were sisters, daughters of Pudens, who was martyred by Nero. Their grandfather was a Roman Senator, and as all Roman senators, had a really cool name: Quintus Cornelius Pudens. He is mentioned in 2 Tim 4:21 and was a host of St. Peter while he was in Rome. The church of Santa Pudenziana was built over the house of Pudens — titulus Pudentis… remember our lesson on house churches??
The sisters are patronesses of women athletes because when they would run into the circuses after martyrdoms and sop up the blood and gather the relics of the martyrs. Nero got pretty angry that none of his soldiers were catching the fast-footed sisters, and threatened them with death if the sisters weren’t caught. The sisters were both martyred — Pudentiana being a mere 16 years old.
Neat things in the church include the well where the girls would hide the relics of the martyrs– it is estimated that relics of 3,000 unidentified martyrs still reside in the well– and a piece of the table that Peter used as an altar to say Mass. The other half of the table is in the altar of St. John Lateran. When they did tests on the pieces of wood some year back, they found that the two pieces were from the same original piece and the piece dates back to the first century.
The church also has the oldest mosaic-ed apse in Rome. Mosaic-ed apses are pretty common around these parts, and this one dates to 4th century. It portrays Christ in a Jupiter-like pose, with the Apostles gathered around him like Roman senators. The city in the background symbolizes Heavenly Jerusalem, with the jeweled cross representing the cross Constantine erected on Calvary. The symbols in the sky — the human/angel, the lion, the ox, the eagle — represent the four evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). This mosaic is the oldest preserved representation we have of these symbols! I just find that really, really neat.
I feel sorry for the Apostles who got kicked out of the mosaic when they decided to renovate the church in the 16th century. : (
Other highlights today included a long nap in my friend Trena’s apartment.
It appears my readership is dropping… maybe its because I talk about boring things like naps.