(active 820s in Rome)

Interior view

Santa Prassede, Rome

Santa Prassede is a basilica on the Esquiline Hill in Rome. It is thought that an oratory was erected on the site by Pope Pius I (reg c. 140–c. 155), later built over by Pope Paschal (reg 817–24) and completed in AD 822. Paschal followed the plan of Old St Peter's and arranged to house the remains of saints he removed from ruined catacombs, including the sisters St Praxedes and St Pudentiana, who were daughters of Pudens, a well-known senator and legendary first convert of St Paul.

The style and construction are typical of the revival of Early Christian architecture in Rome at this time. Restorations using Roman spolia continued up until the 20th century.

Original 9th-century mosaics are preserved on the triumphal arch, the arch of the apse wall, the half-dome of the apse, and the chapel of San Zeno. The apse mosaic depicts Christ's Second Coming, with Christ flanked by Sts Peter and Paul, who present Praxedes and Pudentiana to God. Pope Paschal, with the square halo of the living, is featured presenting a model of the church to Christ.

On the apsidal arch is a mosaic of the Adoration of the Lamb, depicting 24 elders holding wreaths of victory and welcoming souls into heaven.

The cross-shaped chapel of San Zeno, with its original opus sectile floor, was constructed by Paschal as a mausoleum for his mother, Theodora Episcopa. It is the only chapel in Rome entirely lined with mosaics and contains the alleged pillar upon which Christ was scourged.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.