Entrance Portal, Church of Santa Pudentiana, Rome

Doorway: 16th century, restored in 1870
Frieze: 11th century
Fresco of the Virgin and Child by Antonio Manno, 1870

St. Pudentiana is on the left of the lamb, St. Praxedes on the right. Each wears a substantial crown and carries a lamp with a flame at its mouth. The inscriptions make it clear that the lamps refer to the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). On the far left and right are SS. Pastor and Pudens. The latter is the father of the two women. The former is the putative author of the two saints' vita edited in the Acta Sanctorum.

Above the frieze is a badly deteriorated 19th-century adaptation of the medieval Throne of Wisdom iconography. The Virgin sits enthroned with the Christ Child on her lap, both of them looking straight out at the viewer. The child holds a book in his left arm; though now faint, the right hand seems to be blessing the viewer. The scene is flanked by the heads of two putti.

The frieze has six inscriptions:

  1. Across the top edge: AD REQUIEM VITAE CUPIS O TU QUOQUE VENIRE ET IANITOR IDEM GAVIDIA PROMITTENS ET CRIMINA QUAEQUAE REMITTENS, "To those desiring rest [i.e., after death] of life: O you also come, and the same gatekeeper [will] produce joys and remit any sort of offence).

  2. Around the far left tondo (St. Pastor): SA[N]C[T]E PRECOR PASTOR P[R]O NOBIS ESTO ROGATOR + HIC CUNCTIS VITE (sic) PASTOR DAT DOGMATE [SAN]C[T]E, "O Saint Pastor, I pray that you be [my] intercessor; this shepherd gives life to all by holy doctrine; read Vita for Vite."

  3. Around the tondo left of the lamb (St. Pudentiana): P[ROT]EGE PRAECLARA NOS VIRGO PUDENQ[U]ETIANA + VIRGO PUDENQ[U]ETIANA CORA[M] STAT LA[M]PADE PLENA, "Protect us, illustrious virgin Pudenziana; the virgin Pudenziana stands [before God?] with a full lamp."

  4. Around the central tondo (the Lamb of God): MORTUUS ET VIVUS IDEM SUM PASTOR ED AGNUS + HIC AGNUS MUNDU[M] RESTAURAT SANGUINE LAPSUM, "Dead and alive, I am both shepherd and lamb. This lamb restores with [its] blood the fallen world."

  5. Around the tondo right of the lamb (St. Praxedes): NOS PIA PRAXEDIS PRECE S[ANC[T]A S[AN]C[TIS] FER AD [A]EDIS + OCCURRIT SPONSO PRAXEDIS LUMINE CLARO, "Pious St Praxedis, make us [go] to the holy temples [of heaven?] by your prayer. Praxedis meets the bridegroom with a bright light."

  6. Around the far right tondo (St. Pudens): TE ROGO PUDENS [SAN]C[T]E NOS PURGA CRIMINA TRUDENS + ALMUS ET ISTE DOCET PUDENS AD SIDERA CA[E]LES, "I ask you holy Pudens, you who pushes [inspires?], purge our offences. This kind and modest [note pun] one teaches [the way] to the heavenly stars."
The inscription below the frieze and above the door is S. S. PUDENTI ET PUDENTIANAE DICATUM, "Dedicated to Saints Pudens and Pudentiana."

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More of SS. Praxedes and Pudentiana

Photographed at the basilica by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.
Data and frieze quotations from the "Santa Pudenziana" page of the Churches of Rome Wiki.