Rome, Italy: Basilica of Saint Praxedes: Central Nave

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Sheppard, Beth M.
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Italy , Rome , Basilica di Santa Prassede all Esquilino , Basilica of Saint Praxedes , Naves , Transverse Arches , High Altars , Baldachins , Corinthian Columns , Mosaic Floors , Cosmateque Floors , Byzantine Art , Mosaics , Porphyry Columns , Triumphal Arches , Apses , Jesus Christ in Art , Saints in Art , Saint Praxedes in Art , Saint Prudenziana in Art , Saint Zeno in Art , Pope Paschale I in Art , Jerusalem in Art , Angels in Art , Second Coming of Christ in Art , Virgin Mary in Art , John the Baptist in Art , Saint Peter in Art , Saint Paul in Art , Halos in Art
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The Basilica of Saint Praxedes (in Italian: Basilica di Santa Prassede, commonly known as Santa Prassede) is a Catholic basilica located in the Rione Esquilino (or district of Esquiline). Esquiline is the name of a Roman hill, one of seven on which the ancient city was built. The church was rebuilt by Pope Pasquale I in 822 CE and was restored multiple times since then. It was built principally as a resting place for the relics of Roman martyrs and was dedicated to the second-century Saint Praxedes, who was the daughter of a Roman senator. Along with her sister, Praxedes provided comfort and care to Christians persecuted in the Roman Empire. The sisters were murdered for burying early Christian martyrs, which defied Roman law. The church is known for being the most important example of early Christian Byzantine art in Rome because of the mosaics decorating its apse and side chapels. The photograph shows the central nave (of three), with large ancient granite Corinthian columns on a mosaic Cosmateque floor. Four of the sixteen original columns, which directly support the entablature, were later incorporated into reinforcement pillars which support three large transverse arches decorated with 17th century frescoes featuring the Apostles and the Passion of Christ. The high altar is emphasized with a baldachin topping four red porphyry columns. This elaborate structure of Baroque style was built by the order of Cardinal Luigi Pico della Mirandola in 1730. The relics of Saints Praxedes and Prudenziana are contained below this high altar in sarcophagi within a crypt. The triumphal arch, the arch of the apse wall, the half dome of the apse (as well as the Chapel of St. Zeno, not pictured here) are covered in original 9th century mosaics and are famous features of the Basilica. The triumphal arch is the first of the three mosaic scenes encountered by the viewer. It depicts the celestial city of Jerusalem, with jewelled encrusted walls and guardian angels. The Apostles are presented in two groups with Christ standing in the center. One group is led by Saint Praxedes and the other by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist. The arch of the apse wall is the next colorful mosaic scene and contains the monogram of Pasquale at its center. This arch, and the half dome of the apse, depict the Second Coming of Christ. Christ is flanked by Saints Peter and Paul, who are presenting Praxedes and Pudenziana to God. It is thought that St. Zeno is the figure depicted on the far right. Pope Paschal is also present on the far left, with the square nimbus (halo) of the living, presenting the church to Christ.
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