Time of year
dapper777 wrote a review Mar 2020
Monaco22,679 contributions2,298 helpful votes
A hidden gem just steps away from Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, Santa Prassede is a 9th-century basilica with glorious Byzantine mosaics in the apse and filling a side chapel. Also here is a piece of the scourging column of Christ, brought from Constantinople in the Middle Ages, relics from the catacombs in the crypt, and a monument by a 17-year-old Bernini. St. Prassede (or Praxedes) was the sister of St. Pudenziana and daughter of Pudens, in whose house St. Peter reportedly stayed while in Rome. There is a small coloured statue of St Pressede protected by a glass case, just next to the main entrance door. Next to the galass case, during the Christmas period and for some time afterwards, you will find a nice crib with nativity scenes. There are two entrances to the church: the eastern, secondary entrance, located on the side of the right nave, is on a side street (Via di Santa Prassede) just down the main road (Via Merulana) from Santa Maria Maggiore, and this one is the entrance that everyone uses. The ideal would be to approach the church from the main, southern entrance on Via di San Martino ai Monti. The latter takes you past the original 9th-century façade of the basilica, which is not visible from the street, is inside a quadrangular courtyard bordered by residential buildings. Access to the open space is through Via di San Martino ai Monti with the original 'prothyrum' (a portico, a vestibule, a porch) supported by two bare columns and topped by a loggia in a sober baroque style added in the XVI century. This main entrance has long been closed. The current church dates from the early 9th century. Pope Paschal I (817-824) erected this basilica to replace the decaying 5th-century church and to house the neglected remains of saints that he had removed from the abandoned catacombs. He also included a funerary chapel for his mother Theodora. The plan of the church is the typical basilica style of the earliest Roman churches, based particularly on the Constantinian Basilica of St. Peter, before the Renaissance and Baroque changes and additions. The interior is divided into three naves (five were those of the Vatican basilica) separated by large granite columns. The large naves make up the central body of the church. The naves are surrounded by what remains of beautiful frescoes and host the benches facing the altar. The basilica plan also consists of a transept and a finely decorated apse. The neo-cosmatesque style floor is a remake of the last century and, in the central part of the church, has a disc of red porphyry which covers the ancient well where martyr Prassede would have placed the blood and the bones of the Christian martyrs persecuted by emperor Antonino Pio. What leaves visitors speechless is, of course, the presence of the mosaics that decorate the apse, the triumphal Arch, the altar and the chapel of San Zeno, located in the right nave. The apse is entirely covered with Byzantine mosaic tiles and they are a depiction of scenes from the book of the Apocalypse. The San Zenon chapel is the most important Byzantine monument in the city, strongly desired by Pope Pasquale I (Paschal I) as a mausoleum for his mother Theodora. The chapel, in form of Greek cross, has its vault completely covered with gold mosaics: the most exquisite mosaic chapel that exists in Rome, whose architecture refers to the chapels in Ravenna. The most impressive of the mosaics is the one right on the ceiling, representing the Christ Pantocrator. The Virgin and Child, Saint Prassede, her sister St Pudenziana and their brother Saints Timothy and Novate are represented in the inner ring of medallions. The outer ring shows Christ and the apostles. Inside the chapel of San Zeno, in a small alcove to the right of the entrance, lies the reliquary of the column of the scourging of Jesus,(the pillar to which Christ was tied as he was scourged before the crucifixion), now protected by a glass case. The column is said to have been brought here in 1223 from Jerusalem under Pope Honorius III, following the wars that the Crusaders had sustained in the Holy Land. Even without any art knowledge, the shapes of the mosaic tiles, the colors and the peculiar face rendition of the characters represented draw you back to a time that is lightyears away from both the grandeur of imperial Rome and elaborate splendor of Baroque times and make this chapel one of a kind in Rome. Notheworthy also is one of Bernini's earliest works, a funerary bust of Giovanni Battista Santoni, which can be seen on the side of the pillar facing the entrance. The Cappella del Crocefisso (Chapel of the Crucifix) contains a medieval coloured crucifix, dated sometime between the 13th and the 15th centuries, The chapels contains also some beautiful items of carved stonework found when the nave floor was re-laid later, apparently from the 9th century furnishings. Stunning , very old church, with fantastic and awe-inspiring mosaics. Don't forget to visit the side chapel of San Zeno. Highly recommended. …
Date of experience: February 2020
1 Helpful vote
Kristine N wrote a review Feb 2020
9 contributions18 helpful votes
This church is just around the corner from the larger Santa Maria Maggiore, but it is worth seeking out. The mosaics are stunning. We didn't know it at the time, but for a euro, you could turn the lights on to get a better view. Seeing the church in the dim light gives you a better appreciation for how they originally looked and makes you wonder how the artists made the mosaics without flood lights.…
Date of experience: January 2020
2 Helpful votes
Manuela L wrote a review Oct 2019
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg7,119 contributions2,705 helpful votes
Church who remains the martyrs, dedicated to Santa Prassade and occupies an ancient site from the Roman persecutions of the Christians; Santa Prassade is also burried in this basilica; the Bysantine mosaics are the most beautiful.
Date of experience: November 2018
1 Helpful vote
Polyolbion A wrote a review Oct 2019
Oxford, United Kingdom166 contributions90 helpful votes
The other reviews say it all, a jewel of church tucked away down a side street with some astonishing mosaics. Like many small Roman churches not much to look at from the outside but enter in and 'wow'.
Date of experience: October 2019
giuliettimic wrote a review Sep 2019
Rome, Italy5 contributions
This is one of the best churches in Rome and in Italy. It's close to Via Merulana and to Panella, one of the best bakeries in town (second only to Roscioli). Don't miss the small chapel all-around made of mosaic.
Date of experience: August 2019