The basilica of Santa Pudenziana is a 4th-century church of Rome, dedicated to Saint Pudentiana, sister of Saint Praxedis and daughter of Saint Pudens. It has been suggested that there was no such person as Pudentiana, the name having originated as an adjective used to describe the house of Pudens, Domus Pudentiana.
The church of Santa Pudenziana is recognized as the oldest place of Christian worship in Rome. It was built over a 2nd-century house, probably during the pontificate of Pius I in 140–155 AD, and re-uses part of a bath facility still visible in the structure of the apse. This church was the residence of the Pope until, in 313, Emperor Constantine I offered the Lateran Palace in its stead. In the 4th century, during the pontificate of Pope Siricius, the building was transformed into a three-naved church.
The Romanesque belltower was added in the early 13th century. Restorations of 1588 by Francesco da Volterra, on orders from cardinal Enrico Caetani, Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, transformed the three naves into one and a dome was added, also designed by Francesco da Volterra. The painting of Angels and Saints before the Saviour on the dome is a fresco by a painter Pomarancio. During these last restorations some fragments of a Laocoön group were found that were larger than those in the Vatican. As no one was willing to pay extra for this find, they filled up the hole in the ground. These fragments were never recovered. The façade was renewed in 1870 and frescoes were added by Pietro Gagliardi.
The mosaics in the apse are late Roman art. They date from around the end of the 4th century; they are regarded by different groups of scholars as dating from either the reign of Pope Siricius (384-99) or the pontificate of Innocent I (401-17). They were heavily restored in the 16th century. They are among the oldest Christian mosaics in Rome and one of the most striking mosaics outside of Ravenna. They were deemed the most beautiful mosaics in Rome by the 19th century historian Ferdinand Gregorovius.
This mosaic is remarkable for its iconography. Christ is represented as a human figure rather than as a symbol, such as lamb or the good shepherd, as he was in very early Christian images. The regal nature of this representation prefigures the majestic bearing of Christ as depicted in Byzantine mosaics.
The Peter chapel, on the left side of the apse, contains a part of the table at which Saint Peter would have held the celebration of the Eucharist in the house of Saint Pudens. The rest of the table is embedded in the papal altar of St. John Lateran. The sculpture on the altar depicts Christ delivering the keys of Heaven to St. Peter (1594) by the architect and sculptor Giacomo della Porta. In the same chapel there are two bronze slabs in the wall, explaining that here St. Peter was given hospitality and that St. Peter offered for the first time in Rome bread and wine as a consecration of the Eucharist. The pavement is ancient. A door opens into a cortile with a small chapel that contains frescoes from the 11th century.
The statue of St Pudenziana (c. 1650) in a niche is by Claude Adam. The sisters’ well stands just outside the Caetani chapel in the left aisle, which is said to contain the relics of 3,000 early martyrs, many of which were brought here and hidden by Saints Pudentiana and Praxedes. This is marked by a square porphyry slab in the floor.References:
The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.
The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.
After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.
The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.
Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.
The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.