I spent so much time on yesterday’s story about Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica that I did forget to post the station church of the day so now I am doing double duty, station churches of Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week. Tomorrow, Wednesday is the final Rome Lenten Station church because the next day, Thursday we enter the Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
LENTEN STATION CHURCHES, HOLY WEEK MONDAY: SANTA PRASSEDE
(pnac.org) – Traditionally held to be the sister of St. Pudenziana, St. Praxedes joined her in collecting the mortal remains of the martyrs after their sufferings. It is believed that both she and her sister faced martyrdom as well, although details are scant. A titulis named after her is recorded in the late fifth century, although this likely existed even earlier.
The titulis was first based in an apartment block in a nearby location. In the early ninth century, Pope St. Paschal I replaced this with the current church, in order to provide a more fitting place for worship. Continuing the devotion to the martyrs shown by the patroness of this church, the same pope brought the relics of 2,300 martyrs from the catacombs to be laid to rest here.
In about the year 1080, an altar was built in the crypt. In a side chapel there is a column said to have been brought here in 1223 from Constantinople during the Latin occupation of that city. It is traditionally believed to be the column on which the flagellation of Christ took place. Around the turn of the fourteenth century, structural problems in the church necessitated the construction of three large arches across the nave as means of strengthening the building. The church was restored under Pope Nicholas IV in the mid-fifteenth century,
St. Charles Borromeo, the cardinal titular here in the late sixteenth century, undertook a great deal of work. The great archbishop of Milan not only took care to improve the physical structure of the church, but also to minister to the people of the area, going so far as to invite the poor to eat at his table. His works to the church structure included blocking off the transept and creating a new area for the choir in its place. The baroque renovations continued under the next titular, Alessandro Medici, later Pope Leo XI, who also commissioned the frescoes in the nave.
In 1730, a new ciborium and high altar were installed, and the crypt was renovated. Since then there have been no major changes to the structure, although the façade of the church was restored to its medieval appearance in 1937. (Address: via Santa Prassede, 9A)
LENTEN STATION CHURCHES, HOLY WEEK, TUESDAY: SANTA PRISCA
(pnac.org) – Today we ascend the Aventine hill by the same road trod almost forty days ago as we now approach one of the final Lenten stations. Down a small road stands the little church of St. Prisca, as unpretentious in its appearance as it is rich in its history. The Prisca of the dedication is traditionally held to have been the Prisca greeted along with Aquila by St. Paul in Romans 16:3.
A tradition also relates that St. Peter stayed here for a time. Support for this tradition may be found in archeological discoveries that show members of the Pudens family living nearby, possibly indicating a link to the Pudens of St. Pudentiana. The church structure, particularly at the sanctuary end, incorporates some Roman structures dating from as far back as the second century after Christ.
The first mention of a titulis here comes from the fifth century, at which time it already bore the name of Prisca. Not much is known about the development of this church in the first millenium, other than it’s being a relatively small oratory for at least the later part of that period.
In 1104-1105, Walo, the bishop of Paris, sponsored the building of a larger structure to replace this. In 1455, Pope Callistus III initiated needed repairs after a fire, even replacing one of the walls. In the early 17th century the church was remodeled, including shortening the nave and rebuilding the current façade. A century later, the interior was renovated in a more contemporary style.
When the French occupation of the city began in 1798, the church was abandoned, but restored in the 1820s. In 1938, excavations began beneath the church that discovered a Mithraic temple from the second century. (Address: via Santa Prisca, 11) (photo tertullian.org)