"Church/ Chiesa di Santa Prassede all'Esquilino" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Friday 20th May 2011
The church was built by St Paschal I in 822 in occasion of transfer of the rests of 2300 martyrs from the Catacombs to the "Campagna romana" to protect them from the Saracens. The oratory from which the primitive church grew later had been erected here in 140-155 by St Pius I. The church was restored in 1450, 1564, 1832 and 1869, and was dedicated to martyr St Praxedes, sister of martyr St Pudentiana and daughter of senator St Pudens, in whose house St Peter is traditionally supposed to have first found hospitality at Rome.
The only part of the exterior visible is the Zeno Chapel. The façade, which opens up to the open-air atrium, has columns of the antique narthex and three arched windows on top. The basilical inside was originally divided up into three naves with sixteen granite columns that directly supported the trabeation
It is on a basilican plan with the nave and two aisles. The nave has 16granite columns and six piers supporting an architrave made up from ancient Roman fragments. The frescoes date from the 16th century and were executed by P.Nogari, Baldassare Croce, Ciampelli and others.
In the pavement in the nave, executed in Cosmatesque style in course of restoration works conducted by Antonio Munoz in 1917, a large porphyry disc with an inscription indicates the site where St Praxedes is supposed to have hidden the bones of Christian martyrs. The choir is approached by steps of splendid red marble, which in the past century was projected to be exported to Paris to use it for the throne of Napoleon.
The fine baroque baldacchino by C.Fontana (1730) partially hides the splendid 9th century mosaics and a dedicatory inscriptions. On both sides of the sanctuary are six Roman columns of very unusual design. In the crypt beneath are four early Christian sarcophagus, including one with the remains of Saints Praxedes and Pudentiana, and the 13th century Cosmatesque altar, with a damaged fresco.
Byzantine Chapel of St Zeno, the unique monument of Byzantine art remained in Rome, built in 817-824 by St Paschal I as a mausoleum for his mother Theodora Episcopa in the middle of the aisle. At the entrance there are two ancient black porphyry columns with 9th century Ionic capitals which support a rich 1st century architrave from a pagan temple; on this rests a Roman marble urn of the 3rd century. Above is a double row of 9th century mosaic busts. The exquisite vaulted interior, the only chapel in Rome entirely covered with mosaics, was known as the "Garden of Paradise".
In a niche on the right are fragments of a column brought from Jerusalem in 1223 by cardinal Giovanni Colonna, legate of pope Honorius III, and said to be that at which Christ was scourged. It is 63 cm high, with the diameters of the base 40cm and of the top 20cm.
In the adjoining funerary chapel is the tomb of Cardinal Alain Coetivy (1474) by A.Bregno.
Outside, on a nave pillar, is the tomb of Giovanni Battista Santoni, one of the earliest works of G.L.Bernini.
In the end of the aisle, a chapel contains the tomb of cardinal Pantaleon of Troyes, with Cosmatesque fragments, attributed to A.di Cambio, marble architectural fragments, and a 16th century crucifix.
In the second chapel are two paintings by Carlo Ferri, and ceiling frescoes by Borgognone.
1st chapel: altarpiece by Giuseppe Severoni;
Cappella Borromeo: St Charles Borromeo (titular of the church) by Stefano Parrocel, and two paintings on the side walls by Ludovico Stern; the chair used by St Charles Borromeo.
4th chapel: frescoes and mosaics executed in 1933.
The sacristy contains the altarpiece by Ciampelli, a painting of the Flagellation attributed to G.Romano and a Deposition by G.De Vecchi.
The bell-tower was built on the left-hand side in 1080, it is composed of only one floor and is decorated by ceramics; it is one of the lowest in Rome. In the middle of the floor a porphyry disk covers a well where, according to legends, Santa Prassede collected the remaining and blood of martyrs. San Zeno’s chapel is the most important Byzantine monument in Rome and collects some of the most important Byzantine mosaics.
Church/ Chiesa di Santa Prassede all'Esquilino
Via di Santa Prassede, 9/a (Via San Martino ai Monti)
00184, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Monti (Colosseo-S.Giovanni-S.Maria Maggiore) (Roma centro)
Church/ Chiesa di Santa Prassede all'Esquilino is Shown By "Map F Zone" As "23"
Hours: Open 07:30am-12:00pm 04:00pm-06:30pm. Masses: Holidays:08.00am-10.00am-11.30am-06.00pm, Weekdays:07.30am-06.00pm. During the mass it is not possible to visit the church.
Telephone: 0039 06 4882456
Fax: 0039 06 4819059