Santa Pudenziana

Santa Pudenziana, Rome

Santa Pudenziana
4.5
Religious Sites • Churches & Cathedrals
About
One of the first parish churches in Rome, this structure's chapel has been dated back to 140 AD, then converted to a regular church after tolerance was granted to Christians in the early fourth century.
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The area
Neighborhood: Centro
How to get there
  • Cavour • 5 min walk
  • Repubblica - Teatro dell'Opera • 6 min walk
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7,903 within 3 miles
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2,035 within 6 miles

4.5
106 reviews
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dapper777
Monaco32,075 contributions
Oct 2019 • Friends
Via Urbana is not too traffic-congested and houses a couple of eighteenth-century buildings and three important churches: S. Lorenzo in Fonte, the church of Bambino Gesù (Holy Child) and S. Pudenziana.
The latter one is about four meters below the street level and the access to the church is through wrought iron gates and two beautiful two-colored marble staircases, that lead to the courtyard in front of the entrance.
The church is dedicated to St. Pudentiana, the sister of Praxedes.The two young women were part of some Christian people who endangered their lives by protecting Christians from persecutions of Roman emperors before Constantine. The nearby Basilica of Santa Prassede was dedicated to her sister Praxedes.
The church, of small dimensions, has a single nave and currently hosts the Filipino community in Rome: It is the national church for Filipinos.
It holds an extraordinary 4th-century apse Byzantine mosaic, the oldest of its kind in the city.
The decoration of the Early Christian churches was mostly with mosaics. The late 4th-century apse mosaic of Santa Pudentiana is the most hieratically explicit, and clearly didactic.
On the apse, Christ, depicted as teacher and lawgiver, although also enthroned in majesty as judge, is seated in front of a hill, representing Golgotha, with a jewelled cross rising from it. On either side of Christ are the Apostles,dressed as Roman senators, with St Paul on his right, the position of honour, and St Peter on his left.
Behind them are two female figures, one representing 'Ecclesia ex gentibus' (Church), and the other one representing ‘ Ecclesia ex circumcisione' (Synagogue).
Unfortunately, you can only see 10 of the original 12 apostles, as a brutal 16th-century facelift trimmed off two and cut the legs of the others.
The façade has interesting bas-reliefs and frescoes, dating back to the eleventh century.
Some of them are hopelessly lost.
Nonetheless the religious history of this place has its roots far back in time, at the origins of Christianity.
In fact tradition has it that that St. Peter was hosted by a Roman senator, Pudens, when the first Christians were having hard times and were strongly opposed by the political class in the imperial capital. Pudens was the name of this senator and "Ecclesia Pudentiana" was the first structure dedicated to Christian worship tolerated where before there were the baths (Roman Thermae).
The church went under some restoration works by the Caetani family.
During the Caetani restoration of the sixteenth century, Niccolò Circignani – Il Pomarancio – had added a series of frescoes to the façade . These had probably faded and were “redone” by Pietro Gagliardi during the nineteenth century restoration. Unfortunately, Gagliardi’s work was of poor quality and only faded shadows of his frescoes remain today.
In the centre, between the two windows, we see Saint Peter flanked by Pudens and Pudentiana.
The façade, embellished by two mullioned windows, has been remodeled several times until the current nineteenth-century restoration.
Noteworthy is the lunette mosaic above the entrance with the image of the two sanctified sisters "St Praxedes and Pudenziana collecting the Blood of the Martyrs" , by Giovanni Paolo Rossetti,1621.
We visited this church after S Maria Maggiore basilica, which is just few steps away.
It is a lovely, quiet and peaceful church, one of the oldest in Rome.
The mosaics are charming and vibrant.
Quite unremarkable from outside, very precious inside.
Try not to miss it, if you are near the Esquilin Hill and the Monti neighborood.
Written April 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

gpp
Grosse Pointe Park, MI111 contributions
Nov 2019
We visited because this is one of the oldest surviving Christian churches, with very old apse mosaics. It is sunken and set back from the street (via Urbana), unassuming and difficult to spot. Sunken because the surrounding ground level has risen (4m?) over the centuries. It is claimed that the church and its apse mosaic derive from 4th century AD. If so, that would make it one of the oldest, if not the oldest, still surviving/functioning churches of paleo-christianity in Rome. The church is dimly lighted, and it is difficult to see the apse mosaic well from any angle.There are also side chapels also dimly lighted, some quite dark. When my wife and I visited, a tour group had seized the front of the nave and their leader was orating the usual about the church, its mosaics, and the renaissance paintings throughout. This sort of thing is a nuisance one must get used to in Rome (or Ravenna, or Siena, or Florence, etc.). Given its antiquity and its importance for early Christianity and early Christian art, this is a site which very much should be visited -- despite the negatives.
Written November 9, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

stevedurbano
Willcox, AZ111 contributions
Oct 2018
There are many historic and spiritually important churches in Rome. This church, however, should be on the top five to visit for anyone considering a trip to Rome. You are immediately made aware of the passage of time when you first see it- the church sits about 20 feet below street level (the street levels rise slowly due to debris, repairs, etc). An excellent source for information about this and other churches in Rome is the "Churches of Rome Wiki". Suffice it to say that the mosaics and other artwork are astonishing- to see them is truly moving. I'm sure most of you have heard the "Dutch Jesus" about the depiction of Jesus, namely that the commonly accepted image was invented in the middle ages by Dutch painters. Although I'm sure the image in the apse mosaic is Romanized (even having Him in Roman dress) it is fascinating that the face is very close to today's commonly accepted image. Do not miss this church if you have an opportunity to see it.
Written November 11, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Debbie R
95 contributions
Nov 2018 • Solo
I have tried to visit on several occasions while in Rome but there have been services. As a church serving the community it is excellent but as a visitor destination it is hard to access. I wouldn't recommend making a special trip but, if you wanted to see the mosaic, I finally managed it by visiting when the church first opens at 9am.
Written November 5, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

FGScot
162 contributions
Oct 2018 • Couples
We stopped in here and had the church to ourselves. The 4th century mosaic is outstanding, and it was wonderful to sit quietly and admire it.

Be sure to check the hours it's open. I believe it's closed from noon to 2pm.

Well worth a visit
Written October 27, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Charming_Karl
Charleston, SC1,465 contributions
Oct 2017 • Couples
A Rome guidebook I had purchased years earlier had a walking tour oriented around the many incredible churches in Rome that have ancient mosaics. I picked a few that seemed like they could all be visited in an afternoon, and away we went. First stop was Santa Maria Maggiore, after which we ate lunch just across the street from the magnificent basilica. Our second stop was Santa Pudenziana, which is just a couple short blocks from Santa Maria Maggiore.

My first impression of this basilica was that it looks impossibly ancient, and like it could crumble and fall apart any second. Its base is several feet below street level, demonstrating that it dates to a time when Rome's level was much lower. After you climb down the stairs to enter, you begin to see that the interior looks just as ancient as the outside.

And then there is the most famous part of the church, the mosaics above the altar. Just breathtaking. And they look so fresh, and the style is not the primitive way of depicting figures that one is used to seeing in medieval art. If they had told me that these mosaics were made in the nineteenth century instead of the early 5th century, I would have believed it. Just amazing. Well cared-for, obviously, to have remained in such amazing shape for all these centuries, but just incredible art as well.
Written September 26, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

stewartp890
Cornwall, uK17 contributions
Apr 2018 • Family
This Church is a real gem. It isn't easy to find, but when you do it will have been worth the trip!
Sit in a pew quietly, and contemplate what's going on in the mosaic. This is a very quiet Church not many people know about. naturally with these smaller Churches, avoid between 12 til 3pm as it will be closed.
Also if you have time, cross the Road to the equally beautiful and equally lesser-known Santa Pressede.
Written April 20, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Mmarymomm
Pleasanton, CA1,738 contributions
Mar 2018 • Couples
Santa Pudenziana was built in the late 4th or early 5th century. It is adorned with a wonderful mosaic behind the altar. The realistic figures are a surprise since one is used to the Byzantine figures you see in Ravenna or Monreale. These are earlier and before that style became all the rage. Jesus sits on a jewel encrusted throne wearing a gold toga. The surrounding Apostles also wear togas in the Roman fashion. In the mosaic are also the first known use of the iconic Gospel writers, the bull, the angel, the lion, and the eagle. There also several interesting paintings and exposed Roman brickwork. Mostly we were alone the whole time we were there. Highly recommend!
Written March 9, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

tmacquiban
Rome, Italy152 contributions
Feb 2018 • Solo
A beautiful early Christian church - one of the oldest in Rome - with a fantastic mosaic in the apse. The rest of the church is a later restoration.
Written February 22, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Evets54
Southampton, UK279 contributions
Sep 2017 • Couples
We were the only people in the basilica when we visited. It is another one of those rather beautiful churches well off the normal path taken by tourists which is a shame as it should be visited more.

It is probably one of the oldest churches in Rome dating from the 4th century with later alterations like the bell tower added in the 13th century.

Apart from its age what, in my opinion make this church really special are the mosaics in the Aspe which date from the late 4th century and were restored much later in the 16th century. Regardless of how much restoration did or did not take place the mosaics are still incredible. Yes you can easily see some of the changes as the later work lacks the refinement of the original - look at the apostles on the righthand side and you can see they blank and lifeless. Nevertheless it is still breathtaking.

We spent a bit of time just sitting there is the quiet admiring the mosaics and not a single soul disturbed us for about fifteen minutes. It was member of the congregation that eventually broke the silence and who then spent a few minutes talking to us about her church.
Written September 11, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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