Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ID
ER 1972
Martyrdom of Pudentiana and Praxedis is written in Late Antiquity (possibly during the Laurentian Schism, 498-506) as a letter exchange between the presbyters from Rome, Pastor and Timotheus, AD 138-145.
The text is styled as the correspondence between the presbyter Pastor and Timotheus. First there is a letter of Pastor (c. 1-6, BHL 6988-6989) telling of a pious man Pudens and his two daughters Pudentiana and Praxedis who lived as virgins in the church founded by their father in their house. The church was dedicated to the name of the presbyter Pastor:
 
1. [...] Hic itaque a B. Pio doctus, qui et te docuit, domum suam post mortem uxoris suae ecclesiam Christi consecrari cupiens, per nos peccatores ad effectum perduxit: ubi et titulum nomini nostri constituit in urbe Romana, in loco scilicet qui appellatur Vicus Patricii. De hoc ergo Pudente notum tibi facio quia migravit ad omnium Dominum, et reliquit praedictas filias, castitate fultas, omnique lege divina eruditas.
 
The virgins sell their property and later build the baptistery near the church (c. 2) and many people are baptised there. Emperor Antoninus issues restrictive measures against the Christians. Sixteen years later Pudentiana dies and is buried near her father in the cemetery of Priscilla, while Praxedis continued to live by the mentioned church. She is frequently visited by the presbyter Timotheus and his brother Novatus. Novatus, however, fells ill and dies leaving all his possessions to Pastor and Praxedis. They ask Timotheus in a letter what they should do with them. Then follows the response of Timotheus who allows Praxedis to keep his brother's property (c. 7). Then follows the narrative by Pastor that tells of the dedication of the titulus in the former baths of Novatus (the titulus of Praxedis in the vicus Lateranus, in the text erroneously called the titulus Pudentianae). Two years later during the persecution of Christians by the emperor Antoninus, Praxedis hides the believers in the church but they are denounced:
 
8. [...] Misitque statim et tenuit multos ex illis: inter quos tenuit Simetrium presbyterum cum aliis viginti duobus: et eos sine audientia gladio puniri praecepit. Quorum corpora noctu beata Praxedis collegit, et in coemeterio Priscillae sub die VII Kalendas Junii sepelivit. Deinde Virgo Domini, nimia corporis afflictione constricta, cum intimis suspiriis ad Dominum ingemuit, et ut ex hoc mundo tutius auferri mereretur oravit. Cujus orationes et lacrymae pervenerunt ad coelum. Nam post dies quinquaginta quinque passionis praedictorum sanctorum, die videlicet duodecimo Kalendas Augusti, migravit ad Dominum. Cujus corpus ego Pastor presbyter sepelivi juxta patrem Pudentem, via Salaria, in coemeterio Priscillae. [...]
 
(Acta Sanctorum Maii IV, 299-300)
The text is styled as the correspondence between the presbyter Pastor and Timotheus. First there is a letter of Pastor (c. 1-6, BHL 6988-6989) telling of a pious man Pudens and his two daughters Pudentiana and Praxedis who lived as virgins in the church founded by their father in their house. The church was dedicated to the name of the presbyter Pastor:
 
1. [...] He then [Pudens] educated by the blessed Pius who also taught you, after the death of his wife wanted to dedicate his house as a church of Christ and accomplished it with help of us sinners. And he founded there the titulus dedicated to our name in the city of Rome in the place that is called Vicus Patricii. I inform you that Pudens passed away to the Lord of all and left the aforementioned daughters shining with chastity and well-educated in the divine law.
 
The virgins sell their property and later build the baptistery near the church (c. 2) and many people are baptised there. Emperor Antoninus issues restrictive measures against the Christians. Sixteen years later Pudentiana dies and is buried near her father in the cemetery of Priscilla, while Praxedis continued to live by the mentioned church. She is frequently visited by the presbyter Timotheus and his brother Novatus. Novatus, however, fells ill and dies leaving all his possessions to Pastor and Praxedis. They ask Timotheus in a letter what they should do with them. Then follows the response of Timotheus who allows Praxedis to keep his brother's property (c. 7). Then follows the narrative by Pastor that tells of the dedication of the titulus in the former baths of Novatus (the titulus of Praxedis in the vicus Lateranus, in the text erroneously called the titulus Pudentianae). Two years later during the persecution of Christians by the emperor Antoninus, Praxedis hides the believers in the church but they are denounced:
 
8. [...] At once he dispatched people to arrest many of them. Among others, he arrested the presbyter Simetrius with twenty two other persons. And he ordered them to be killed by the sword without a trial. The blessed Praxedis collected their bodies at night and buried them in the cemetery of Priscilla on the seventh day before the Kalends of June [=25 May]. Then the virign of the Lord suffering greatly because of the bodily affliction begged the Lord with deep sighs and prayed to be worthy to be taken safely from this world. And here prayers and tears attained Heaven because fifty five days after the martyrdom of the aforementioned saints, that is on the day of the Kalends of August [=1 August] she migrated to the Lord. I, the presbyter Pastor buried her body beside her father Pudens on the via Salaria in the cemetery of Priscilla. [...]
 
(trans. and summary M. Szada)

Discussion:

Possibly, the literary origin of the Presbyter Timotheus can be traced to the curious reading of 2 Tm 4:21 by the hagiographer. Saint Paul asks there Timothy to greet a certain Pudens and several other people, the hagiographer either believed that it was Pudens from Rome, or used the coincidence of names to create a new literary character, the presbyter Timothy. Similarly, the 2nd-century Christian text, The Shephard (Pastor) of Hermas is probable source for the presbyter Pastor, especially that Pope Pius I was believed to be the brother of Hermas.
 

Place of event:

Region
  • Rome
City
  • Rome

About the source:

Title: Martyrdom of Pudentiana and Praxedis, Passio Pudentianae et Praxedis
Origin: Rome (Rome)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The Martyrdom is written as a correspondence between two presbyters Pastor and Timotheus with additional account by Pastor. It was created to tell the origins of the two Roman churches, titulus Pudentis (or ecclesia Pudentiana) and titulus Praxedis. The hagiographer narrates the story of the family of Pudens and his daugthers Praxedis and Pudentiana who founded the churches and baptisterieswith the help Pope Pius I (died 145). Sisters are not martyrs themselves but they witness the persecution placed in the reign of the Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161).
 
The Martyrdom was written in Late Antiquity, the earliest manuscript is dated to the 9th century. Llewellyn 1976 proposed to date it to the times of Laurentian Schism in Rome, 498-506. Lanéry 2010: 176n382 argued that the Martyrdom of Pudentiana and Praxedis might have inspired that of Marius, Martha and companions (BHL 5543) and of Pimenius (BHL 6849).
 
For more detailed summary, discussion and further reading see Pignot 2017.
Edition:
Acta Sanctorum Maii IV, 299-300
Bibliography:
Llewellyn, P. A. B., "The Roman Church During the Laurentian Schism: Priests and Senators", Church History 45 (1976), 417-427
Lanéry, C., "Hagiographie d'Italie (300-550). I. Les Passions latines composées en Italie”, in Philippart, G., (ed.), Hagiographies. Histoire internationale de la littérature hagiographique latine et vernaculaire en Occident des origines à 1550, volume V (Turnhout, 2010), 15-369, at 170-177 (with further bibliography)
M. Pignot, Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity, E02507, 2017

Categories:

Writing activity - Correspondence
Burial/Funerary inscription
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Fame of sanctity
Ecclesiastical administration - Construction/Renovation
Economic status and activity - Indication of wealth
Economic status and activity - Inheritance
Relation with - Woman
Administration of justice - Capital punishment
Ecclesiastical administration - Selling tombs/Administering graveyards
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1972, http://www.presbytersproject.ihuw.pl/index.php?id=6&SourceID=1972