Praxedes and Pudentiana, martyrs of an unknown era. The seventh-century itineraries to the graves of the Roman martyrs mention in the catacomb of Priscilla two female martyrs called Potentiana (Potenciana) and Praxedis (Praxidis). They occupied adjoining graves in this catacomb (De Rossi, “Roma sott.”, I, 176-7). Of the various MSS. of the “Martyrologium Hieronymianum” only the Echternach Codex (Cod. Eptern.) gives the name of St. Praxedes on July 21 (“Martyrol. Hieronym.”, ed. De Rossi-Duchesne, 94), but it looks like a later addition, and not as if it came from the fourth-century Roman Martyrology. St. Potentiana’s name is found under May 19 in the Martyrology of Reichenau. Praxedes and Pudentiana were venerated as martyrs at Rome. Later legends connect them with the founder of the old title-church of Rome, “titulus Pudentis”, called also the “ecclesia Pudentiana”. Legend makes Pudens a pupil of St. Peter, and Praxedes and Potentiana, his daughters. Later Potentiana became customarily known as “Pudentiana”, probably because the “ecclesia Pudentiana” was designated as “eccl. sanctae Pudentianae” and Pudentiana was identified with Potentiana. The two female figures offering their crowns to Christ in the mosaic of the apse in St. Pudentiana are probably Potentiana and Praxedes. The veneration of these martyrs therefore was in the fourth century connected in a particular manner with the “Titulus Pudentis”. About that time a new church, “titulus Praxedis”, was built near Santa Maria Maggiore, and the veneration of St. Praxedes was now especially connected with it. When Paschal I (817-824) rebuilt the church in its present form he translated to it the bones of Sts. Praxedes, Potentiana, and other martyrs. St. Pudentiana’s feast is observed on May 19, St. Praxedes’s on July 21.
J. P. KIRSCH