Loading...

The Well of the Martyrs

Basilica of Santa Prassede, the site of the Well of the Martyrs
 
Gianluca Pica / Storyteller

Basilica of Santa Prassede, the site of the Well of the Martyrs

The church of Santa Prassede is dedicated to St. Prassede the sister of St. Pudenziana and daughter of Pudens, in whose house St. Peter reportedly stayed while in Rome. 

Santa Pressede

In Rome, it's very easy to find sacred relics, objects, or even human remains which are very important, for several reasons, to the Catholic community.Some of these objects are so important, in fact, that they must be preserved. However, sometimes, these objects are hidden in plain sight, like the one in the Basilica of Santa Prassede, located at the Esquiline neighborhood.

This wonderful basilica is a precious example of a medieval holy church, due to its special golden mosaics that date back to the 9th century, when Pope Pasquale I embellished and restored the entire building. I highly suggest taking at least a glimpse- it really is breathtaking! But there's something more hidden there- a red stone disk (made of porfido, or porphyry in English) a few meters beyond the old main entrance (not the current entrance, located on one the sides of the basilica). This disk, and what lies beneath, is deeply connected to the ancient origins of this Catholic church.

But there's something more hidden there- a red stone disk a few meters beyond the old main entrance, and what lies beneath, is deeply connected to the ancient origins of this Catholic church.

In the first century AD, Prassede was a young girl from a special family. Her father, the senator Pudente, according to legend, hosted Saint Peter and Saint Paul for some days, helping them and giving them a room in his house. During the time of Christian persecution this was a high crime, and for this reason he was killed. Moreover, his two daughters, Prassede and Pudenziana, were also killed and both later honored with churches dedicated to them. The interesting thing about Prassede, was the reason why she was executed. It was partly due to her faith, as she, like her father, protected Christians by hiding them in her home. But she also had a strange hobby: she would collect the bodies and blood of executed Christian martyrs, and place them in a deep well. In this way she felt she was bringing them honor; by preserving them, praying for them, and hiding them from the fury of the pagans of Rome.

Just below this red porfido disk is the top of that very well, The Well of the Martyrs.

About the Author


Gianluca Pica is an archeologist, art historian, tour guide and a story teller, born and raised in Rome. A graduate of Rome's oldest university, La Sapienza, Gianluca has a passion for sharing Rome's ancient history and little-known secrets with his guests.

Learn more

Other articles from Gianluca

ALL OTHER ARTICLES
Tags: