The Pontifical North American College

Tuesday: Santa Prisca

Today we ascend the Aventine by the same road trod almost forty days ago as we now approach one of the last Lenten stations.  Down a small road stands the little church of St. Prisca, as unpretentious in its appearance as it is rich in its history.  The Prisca of the dedication is traditionally held to have been the Prisca greeted along with Aquila by St. Paul in Romans 16:3.  A tradition also relates that St. Peter stayed here for a time.  Support for this tradition may be found in archeological discoveries that show members of the Pudens family living nearby, possibly indicating a link to the Pudens of St. Pudentiana.  The church structure, particularly at the sanctuary end, incorporates some Roman structures dating from as far back as the second century after Christ.  The first mention of a titulis here comes from the fifth century, at which time it already bore the name of Prisca.  Not much is known about the development of this church in the first millenium, other than it’s being a relatively small oratory for at least the later part of that period.  In 1104-1105, Walo, the bishop of Paris, sponsored the building of a larger structure to replace this.  In 1455, Pope Callistus III initiated needed repairs after a fire, even replacing one of the walls.  In the early seventeenth century the church was remodeled, with the nave being shortened and the current façade being built.  A century later, the interior was renovated in a more contemporary style.  When the French occupation of the city began in 1798, the church was abandoned, being restored in the 1820s.  In 1938, excavations began beneath the church which discovered a Mithraic temple from the second century.

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Address: via Santa Prisca, 11

Directions: Take the 40 or 64 from the Accaioli stop (in front of S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini) to Piazza Venezia (getting off near San Marco at the south-west point of the piazza). Walk to the stop for the 715, which is by the Piazza del Campidoglio to the south-west of Piazza Venezia, on via del Teatro Marcello. Take bus 715 south to the via di S. Prisca and up the Aventine hill. Get off in front of the church.

Walking Directions

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