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The name of a certain Pudens occurs in St. Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy (iv. 21): ‘Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens and Linus and Claudia.' He is not mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament, but a large number of traditions have grown up about him, which connect him with St. Peter rather than with St. Paul; and in these traditions there is in all probability a basis of historical fact. In modern times the theory met with strong support, especially among English writers, that Pudens was the husband of Claudia. They were identified with the Pudens and Claudia of Martial's ‘Epigrams' (iv. 13, xi. 53), and Claudia was held to be a British maiden and a daughter of a British chief named Cogidubnus (Martial, xi. 53, ‘CIL.' vii. 11). But it is needless to discuss this hypothesis, for it has been conclusively shown that the ‘Epigrams' were not written until many years after the death of St. Paul. The name Claudia moreover was then not uncommon, and the fact that the names Pudens and Claudia in the salutation are not coupled together, but separated by the name Linus, is a strong objection prima facie to their being husband and wife.496496See Lightfoot, Apost. Fathers, part i. vol. i. pp. 76–79.
The ground document for the Pudens Legend is the very ancient ‘Acts of SS. Pudentiana and Praxedis,' or as it is sometimes called ‘the Acts of Pastor and Timothy.'497497Bollandist Acta SS. Maii, iv. 297–301. These ‘Acts' consist of a letter from a presbyter named Pastor (this Pastor appears in the ‘Liber Pontificalis' as brother of Pope Pius I) to another presbyter named Timothy and the reply of the latter. The letters are followed by a short appended narrative. The date of these ‘Acts' is uncertain, and the letters in their present form are undoubtedly fictitious, but they embody, as can be proved by existing memorials, a genuine tradition treated as to its details with the usual inventive freedom and chronological inexactitude.245
The story as told in these ‘Acts' is as follows: a certain Pudens, whose mother was named Priscilla, a Christian of property, who had shown great zeal in entertaining Apostles and strangers, after the death of his wife consecrated his house as a church of Christ. This church in the house of Pudens in the Vicus Patricius was erected into a Roman parish under the name of titulus Pastoris (the Pastor who wrote the letter being the presbyter placed in charge of this parish). Here with his two daughters Praxedis and Pudentiana, who as chaste virgins spent their lives in prayer, fasting, and charitable deeds, Pudens passed his remaining days. The daughters after his death not only obtained the consent of Pope Pius to the building of a baptistery adjoining the church, but the bishop drew the plan with his own hand, and frequently visited the church and offered there the sacrifices to God. On the decease of Potentiana the letter of Pastor informs us that he and the surviving sister Praxedis placed the body by the side of that of her father in the Cemetery of Priscilla498498It is evidently intended that the Priscilla who gave her name to the cemetery was the mother of Pudens. on the Via Salaria.
Here begins what in some MSS. is called the ‘Acts of Praxedis.' Many noble Christians including Pope Pius came to console Praxedis on her loss, among them a certain Novatus, described as the brother of Timothy, but nowhere in these ‘Acts' as the brother of Praxedis and Pudentiana. This is an important point to remember, for most modern writers following later Martyrologies describe Novatus and Timothy as sons of Pudens.499499A note in the Bollandist Acta SS. Maii, iv, p. 301, states for instance: Colitur S. Novatus 20 Iunii etiam Martyrologio Romano adscriptus et dicitur ‘filius S. Pudentis Senatoris et frater Sancti Timothei Presbyteri et Sanctarum Virginum Praxedis et Potentianae, qui ab Apostolis eruditi sunt in fide,' quorum nihil probamus. Novatus having fallen ill, Praxedis and Pastor visited him in his sickness, and the issue was that he left to them the whole of his property. The letter containing all this information was sent to Timothy to know what he would wish that they should do in the matter of his brother's estate. Timothy replies that he is rejoiced at what his brother has done, and leaves the entire disposition in the hands of Praxedis and Pastor. The contents of these letters in fact make it absolutely clear that there was no relationship between the sisters Praxedis and Potentiana and the brothers Novatus and Timothy.
After the letters comes a narrative by the hand of Pastor of what followed, Praxedis asked Bishop Pius that the Baths of 246Novatus, which at that time were not in use, should be consecrated as a church. Pius consented and dedicated in the name of Praxedis the Baths, as a church, within the city in the Vicus Lateranus and he erected it into a Roman parish, titulus, and consecrated a baptistery to it. That this is the true meaning of the original and that the words in brackets are a later gloss interpolated by the writer to explain the existence in his days of a church of St. Pudentiana in the Vicus Patricius as well as a church of St. Praxedis in the Vicus Lateranus is almost self-evident. It runs thus: ‘Quod et placuit Sancto Pio Episcopo; thermasque Novati dedicavit ecclesiam sub nomine beatae Virginis [Potentianae in vico Patricio. Dedicavit autem et aliam sub nomine sanctae Virginis] Praxedis infra urbem Romam, in vico qui appellatur Lateranus.' The ‘Acts' had already given an account of the dedication of the church in the Vicus Patricius at a much earlier period before the death of Novatus. The ‘Acts' conclude with an account of the burial of Praxedis by Pastor in the cemetery of Priscilla by the side of her father and sister.
The mistake, which led to the interpolation above mentioned caused the following note to he appended to the biography of Pope Pius in two MSS. (and their derivatives) of the ‘Liber Pontificalis': ‘Hic [Pius] ex rogatu beate Praxedis dedicavit aecclesiam thermas Novati in vico Patricii, in honore Sororis suae sanctae Potentianae, ubi et multa dona obtulit; ubi saepius sacrificium Domino offerens ministrabat'; Duchesne commenting on this writes: ‘L'auteur de la note paraît avoir mal compris le texte des Acta, car il ne parle que de l'une des deux églises, rapportant à celle du Vicus Patricius ce qui est dit de l'intervention de Praxède et des thermes de Novatus' (Duchesne, ‘Lib. Pont.' i. 133). This note has also misled most modern writers on the subject.500500See De Rossi, Bullettino di Arch. Crist. 1867, pp. 49–65; Marucchi, Eléments d'Arch. Chrét. ii. 364 ff.; Mem. degli Apost. Pietro e Paolo, pp. 110–116; Lanciani, Pagan and Christian Rome, pp. 110–115; Barnes, St. Peter in Rome, pp. 72–78; Spence-Jones, Early Christians in Rome, pp. 263–7, &c. The two Churches of St. Pudentiana and St. Praxedis are at this day two of the most interesting churches in Rome, and undoubtedly stand on the sites of those mentioned in the ‘Acts,' and there is a record of St. Pudentiana having been restored by Pope Siricius (384–398 A.D.). It is quite certain, however, that this church was not named after a daughter of Pudens but after Pudens himself. An inscription ‘Hic requiescit in pace Hilarus Lector tituli Pudentis' bears the date 528 A.D. and shows that this was 247the correct style. Another inscription of 384 A.D. is ‘Leopardus Lector de Pudentiana ‘ and in the mosaic of the apse (the oldest mosaic in a Roman church) the Saviour holds an open volume with the words ‘Dominus conservator ecclesiae Pudentianae.' As Lanciani remarks (‘Pagan and Christian Rome,' p, 112): ‘In course of time the ignorant people changed the word Pudentiana, a possessive adjective, into the name of a Saint; and the name Sancta Pudentiana usurped the place of the genuine one. It appears for the first time in a document of the year 745.' An inscription of 491 A.D. speaks of certain presbyters ‘Tituli Praxedis.'
The existence, however, of both sisters receives substantiation from the fact that their tombs and that of Pudens are mentioned in the ‘Liberian Calendar' and in the ‘Pilgrim Itineraries' as existing in the fourth and fifth centuries in the Cemetery of Priscilla, where according to the ‘Acta' they were buried. Paschal I in his great translation of the remains of saints from the catacombs into the city in 817 A.D. brought the sarcophagi of SS. Pudentiana and Praxedis from the catacomb to the Church of St. Praxedis, and the names of both are recorded on a catalogue inscribed on a marble slab to the right of the altar and their portraits appear in the mosaics of this date, which adorn the Church (Marucchi, ‘Elém. d'Arch. Chrét.' iii. 325–332).
It is thought that Justin Martyr, when on his trial in 160 A.D. he declared, being interrogated by the Judge as to his dwelling place, that he lived close to the baths called ‘the Timotine,' may have been referring to the baths of Novatus as the place where he was accustomed to worship. As Timothy was the brother of Novatus it is a possible supposition.
The question now arises, was this Pudens of the ‘Acta' identical with the Pudens of the 2nd Epistle to Timothy. The Bollandists say No. De Rossi, Marucchi, and many others say Yes, and they get over the chronological difficulty by urging that Pudentiana and Praxedis may have lived to a very advanced age. But the probabilities against such a view are almost insuperable. It is much more likely that the Pudens of the Epistle and the Pudens of the ‘Acta' were father and son. At one time it was the opinion of De Rossi and his school that the first-century cemetery of Priscilla was the property of the family of Pudens. He and his daughters were buried in the cemetery and his mother's name is given in the ‘Acta' as Priscilla. But the discovery of the crypt of the Acilian gens in this catacomb seemed to render it almost certain that the cemetery must have 248belonged to the family of Acilius Glabrio, the Consul of 91 A.D., in which the names of Priscus, Priscilla and Prisca are found. De Rossi therefore suggested that Pudens may have himself been an Acilius. I have however already made another suggestion, i.e. that Priscilla the mother of Pudens according to the ‘Acta' was an Acilia, and perhaps the aunt or sister of M' Acilius Glabrio.
The traditions which connect the name of Pudens with the early history of the
Church in Rome are persistent and numerous quite apart from what is recorded in
the ‘Acta' that we have been considering. It is said that the house of Pudens
(the elder Pudens mentioned by St. Paul) was during his stay in Rome the home of
St. Peter. The sella gestatoria, or St. Peter's chair, the oak framework of which
is of great antiquity, is said to have been originally the senatorial chair of Pudens.
The wooden altar at the St. John Lateran again has been in continuous use there
since the fourth century, when it was removed from St. Pudentiana, and that despite
the fact that Pope Sylvester in 312 A.D.
ordered that all altars should henceforth be of stone. Many indeed had been so before,
for the word titulus which signifies a consecrated parish church implies its possession
of a stone altar. In the Church of St. Pudentiana at the present time there is preserved
within the altar a single wood plank reputed to have been left at that church as
a memorial when the altar itself was removed. When Cardinal Wiseman was titular
cardinal of St. Pudentiana he had the plank examined and found that the wood was
identical with that of the altar at the Lateran Church. The reason of its preservation
was the tradition that this altar had been used by St. Peter when he celebrated
the Eucharist in the oratory in Pudens' house. When St. John Lateran replaced St.
Pudentiana as the Cathedral Church of Rome the bishop and the altar moved there
together.501501 Concerning the term titulus, Barnes (St. Peter in Rome, p. 75) writes:
‘A great deal has been written on the origin and use of this word, but it is probable
that it is really derived from its occurrence in the Old Latin version, in the account
of the setting up by Jacob of the altar at Bethel after his wonderful dream: an
account which to this day is read in the service for the consecration of an altar
in a church. “And Jacob said: How terrible is this place; this is no other but
the house of God and the gate of heaven. And Jacob arising in the morning took the
stone which he had laid under his head and set it up for a title (erexit in titulum),
pouring oil upon the top of it.” A “title' therefore, in early Christian usage,
came to be nothing else but a stone altar duly consecrated, and, in a wider sense,
the church that contained that altar and drew its own sanctity from it.'
In the Liber Pontificalis (Duchesne, torn. i. p. 126) of Evaristus, the successor of Clement as bishop in 101 A.D., it is recorded ‘hic titulos in urbe Romae dividit presbyteris.' These 249traditions have historically small value in themselves, but it may safely be said that they could never have arisen and obtained the vogue which we find them to have had in comparatively early times, had not the Pudens of Apostolic times and his family after him been active and leading members of the primitive Christian community in Rome.502502 Bianchini in his Anastasius Bibliothecarius (edn. of Liber Pontificalis in 1718) made the suggestion that Pudens was a member of the Gens Cornelia. In 1778 in the primitive Christian oratory discovered in immediate proximity to the Church of St. Prisca (supra, p. 243) a bronze tablet was found to one Caius Marius Pudens Cornelianus offered to this man by a town in Spain expressing gratitude for services rendered during the time when he filled the office of legate, and stating that he (Pudens) had been chosen as ‘patron' by the citizens. The date of this tabula patronatus is 222 A.D:, and its presence gives strong grounds for assuming that the house containing the Christian place of worship was his property.
The following inscription is of great interest as it belongs to the reign of Vespasian and contains the names of an Amaranthus, a T. Flavius, a Q. Cornelius Pudens, and a Chrestus. Marucchi (Rom. Sott. N.S. i. p. 30) states that immediately adjoining the Cemetery of Domitilla excavated beneath Flavian property lies a property known as Tor Marancia from a certain Amaranthus; on this are a number of pagan sepulchres belonging to the Bruttian family; while Eusebius tells us that he derived his information about the Flavian Christians from an historian named Bruttius [see Note D, p. 256, and Note F, p. 279). HILARITATI PVPLIC · · ·
IMP · CAES · VESPASIANI · · ·
TRIBVL · SVCC · CORP · IVN *
· · · · ·
T : COMINIVS AMARANTH : : : ·
T : FLAVIVS · T : F : LVSCV : : : ·
Q : CORNELIVS · Q : F : PVDENT : : ·
CVRATORES : LIBEROR : TRIB : SVC : COR : IVNIOR : : · ·
On the other face occur the words: PONEN · CVR ·
C · NYMPHIDIVS · CHRESTVS ·
· · · · · ·
DEDIC · XVII K · DEC ·
L · ANNIO · BASSO ·
C CAECINA · PAETO · COS · (i.e. 70 A.D.)
* Tribules succussani. Corpus juniorum.—Muratori, tom. i. p. cccviii.
A Tabular Statment of the Scheme of Relationship (set forth in Lecture VIII) between the
Arrecinian and Imperial Flavian Families.
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