Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Saints, Setting and Context.
Chapter 2: Iconography and Sources of S. Prassede's Decorative Cycles.
Chapter 3: Women's Pastoral Offices in Churches Outside Rome.
Chapter 4: Women's Pastoral Offices in the Church of Rome.
Chapter 5: Ordination Rites: For Men Only? For Women Too.
Chapter 6: A Second Look at Myth, History, and Monument.
Index This book investigates the foundation story and mosaic programs (with their unique gender parity) of the ninth-century Roman church of S. Prassede rebuilt by Pope Paschal I (817-824). To a lesser extent its 4th century sister-church down the hill, S. Pudentiana, is also treated. The story centres on two sisters, Praxedes and Pudentiana, showing them as leaders of the house church in their father's property, the titulus Pudentis. Toward the end of her long life, Praxedes is established by Bishop Pius I as presbytera of her own titulus on top of the Esquiline hill. Praxedes' pastoral office, claimed for her by a 17th century Roman priest-historian, and the mosaic bust of Theodora episcopa in S. Prassede's Zeno Chapel, calls for a survey of women holding church office and ordination rites in Christian churches up to the 12th century. Special attention is placed on Rome and its art. The final chapter revisits the evidence and reveals the meaning of Praxedes for the liturgical life of the Church of Rome.