Santa Pudenziana: Rome’s oldest church?

Situated on via Urbana, Santa Pudenziana is at the heart of Rome’s Monti district, and a few minutes away from Santa Maria Maggiore.

The church claims the accolade of being the oldest place of Christian worship in the city. Built in the 4th Century, it’s situated over a previous house church, the main form of Christian worship until Constantine’s legitimisation of the religion. As with most churches of this era, it’s now significantly below current street level. The belltower is relatively new, dating from the 13th Century.

We had the space almost to ourselves and there didn’t seem to be any attempt to explain the history once there, which was a shame, especially as this church may have been the residence of the early popes before the Lateran was gifted by Constantine.  The apse mosaic depicts Christ in a toga and may be original to the site’s early life as a 4th Century church.

Have you visited Santa Pudenziana, or have you got a favourite, off the beaten track, church in this city of churches?

19 comments

  1. We stayed in an Air BnB place just down the road from this church. Walked past it several times but never got round to going in as we didn’t realise the significance of it (popped in to quite a few others though during our week in Rome)! Bit annoyed we missed it now DX Something for a return trip.

  2. Nice post, Marilyn! I don’t think I have been in this particular church but I’ll just need to make the time on a future visit to Rome. It’s not off the beaten path, but my favorite church in Rome is the Basilica of San Clemente.

    • We stayed close to San Clemente on our 2015 visit and it was pretty special. So atmospheric – especially hearing the running water underground. There are just so many churches on my ‘to see’ list . I think my favourite would be St Paul’s Outside the Walls.

  3. I visited Santa Prudenzia in October! I had lunch in Monti with a friend who lives in Roma, then we walked here, and she explained all the history. Interestingly, my friend recommended another small church near Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Pressida, I think it was called. I found it-what an absolute gem! it turns out Prudenzia and Pressida were sisters! Ciao, Cristina

  4. I like your pictures! I’m sorry to nit pick but its called Santa Pudenziana, not Prudenziana. Its a slight difference, but its helps to clarify in order to make the linkage to St. Pudens. Originally at this spot was the home of St. Pudens who had the daughters St. Pudentiana and St. Praxedes. The name of Pudens is actually mentioned in the Scriptures. Here St. Peter stayed for a time. It really is an amazing part of Rome!

    • Thank you for clarifying 😀. Sometimes we see what we expect to see – I will change immediately. I knew about Pudens and I’ve also been to Santa Prassede – it’s the subject of a future blog.

      • No problem. Happy to see someone else who has an interest in this church! I was at Santa Prassede recently and discovered that the tombs of Santa Pudenziana and Santa Prassede are in the crypta under the main altar at Santa Prassede. Also there, in the crypt, are the remains of 2300 martyrs.

  5. Wonderful photography, Marilyn. Especially that 2nd image… the orange/gold color of the exterior is stunning. Thanks for sharing. I have been to 11 countries in Europe to date, but I have not yet been to Italy. Like you, I am drawn to more off the beaten path destinations.

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