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Nearly three weeks ago, we visited the church of Santa Pudenziana. That church is built over the ancient home of Senator Pudens, the home where Saint Peter first stayed after his arrival in Rome. The church is dedicated to the senator’s daughter, Pudentiana. Today we visit the church dedicated to Saint Praxedis, the sister of Pudentiana.
Today’s church is built over the house where the sisters would hide Christians during the persecutions. The first church was built in the fourth century and dedicated as Titulus Praxedis, one of the first twenty-five churches of Rome. The present church dates back to the eighth century and was built under Pope Adrian.
In 822 Pope Paschal enlarged the church to hold all the relics he brought in to protect them from heretics. He brought the bodies of both sisters here, as well as Saint Zeno and Saint Valentine. He filled a chapel with some 2,300 relics, many of which could not even be identified by anyone but God alone.
Near the entrance of the church is a marble slab which Praxedis once slept on.
A porphyry disc on the floor of the nave seals the well into which the sisters would pour the blood of martyrs. They collected the blood with sponges.
During her time in Rome, Saint Bridget of Sweden would often come here to pray. In the Chapel of the Crucifix there is a crucifix said to have spoken to her.
In the Chapel of Saint Zeno is marble column. It was brought here from Jerusalem in 1223. It is believed to be half of the pillar at which Christ was scourged.