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250

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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250 ROMAN DAYS.
and most magnificent temples — hides itself in a side
street, a little, unpretentious, but interesting church,
called Santa Pudentiana, not least interesting that it is
the oldest in Rome. Only the church Pietro in vincoli
disputes with it the palm of antiquity. You go down by
steps into the court in front of Sta. Pudentiana: it lies
as it were in a hollow ; for around it the ground has risen,
in new layers, century after century.
The first time I sought it out, the most beautiful
singing came sounding towards me. Curtains before all
the windows of the church, shut out the light of day
;
candles burned upon the high altar, and in candelabra
;
priests in holiday vestments bent, bowed, knelt and
mumbled, in the choir : and a congregation, for the most
part made up of women and children, listened with de-
light to singing by four voices in one of the side aisles,
above all to a fresh and sweet boy treble, without, so far
as I observed, giving the slightest heed to the service at
the altar.
The choir of Sta. Pudentiana, so named after the sena-
tor’s daughter (another church in the neighborhood bears
the name of her sister Praxedes) is built on the spot
where the house of Pudens stood, A part of the mosaic
floor in the side aisles of the church, belonged to the at-
rium of the senatorial palace. The walls of the crypt
are remains of a bath, the son Novatius caused to be
built in the home of his fathers. On the altar, in one of
the side chapels of the western aisle, stands an urn, given
to the church by Cardinal Wiseman. In it, are preserved
such fragments as remain, of the wooden table on which
the apostle Peter, in Pudens’ house, celebrated his first
mass, distributing the bread and wine to the faithful.
Another wooden table, wholly spared by time, which

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