Churches to see in Rome: Basilica of Santa Prassede. A couple blocks from the grand Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is the small, unassuming Basilica of Santa Prassede. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but those that take the time to enter are rewarded with 9th-century Byzantine mosaics that are among the finest in Rome. Pope Paschal founded the church in the 9th-century, on the site of a 2nd-century oratory. Artists from Byzantium decorated the church with glittering, jewel-colored mosaics.
What to see:
In the apse Jesus is in the center, flanked by Saints Peter and Paul, who present sisters Prassede and Pudenziana to God. On the far left is Pope Paschal, with the square halo of the living, presenting a model of the church as an offering to Jesus. Below runs an inscription of Paschal, hoping that his offering is enough to secure his place in heaven.
Chapel of Saint Zeno
Column of flagellation
Take the staircase in front of the apse down to find a short corridor. It has two ancient sarcophagi stacked on top of each other on either side. The relics of Saints Prassede and Pudenziana are kept in one of them, along with a sponge that was used by the sisters to collect the blood of martyrs. The other three sarcophagi contain relics from martyrs moved from the catacombs.
Via Santa Prassede 9a
Open: 7a-12:30p, 4p-6:30p