Sunday, 19 May 2013

Feast of Saint Pudentiana

Saint Pudentiana, Virgin, is one of the secondary patronesses of the Philippines, the other one being Saint Rose of Saint Mary of Lima. Her feastday falls on 19 May, which happens to be this year’s Whitsuntide. The Missale Romanum assigns 19 May as the Feast of Saint Peter Celestine, Confessor, and Saint Pudentiana is only commemorated. In Spanish, she is known as Santa Potenciana, the namesake of a 15th-century Spanish anchoress whose feast falls on 15 April.


Santa Potenciana, virgen
patrona de las Islas Filipinas

19 de mayo


Santa Potenciana, anacoreta
venerada en Villanueva de la Reina

15 de abril

Being one of the principal patronesses of Philippine Islands for almost half a millennium, her feast had the rank of duplex. From the Commune Sanctorum of the 1856 Breviarium for the Dominican Order in the Philippines, the feast is celebrated as a totum duplex (= duplex I classis and duplex II classis of the Breviarium Romanum; ­= festum sermonis maius of the Breviarium Cisterciense; = duplex maius of the Breviarium Carmelitanum; that is, the highest rank)which coincides with the rank inscribed in the 1887 Directorium for the Augustinian Recollect Order of the Philippines, wherein the feast is celebrated asduplex I classis. Here, 19 May 1887 being the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ (followed by an Octave, and then by Whitsuntide, also with an Octave), the feast was transferred to 8 June. The Cebuano Recollects, moreover, 8 June being impeded by the Feast of Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr, further transferred it to 18 June, with the same dignity. In both books, she is styled as the Patrona Principalis harum Insularum.


Divine Office
From the Directorium, we see the arrangement of the parts of the Office of Saint Pudentiana.



This arrangement was observed amongst Filipino Augustinian Recollects. Notice that in the second nocturn, only the first lesson was proper, while the second and third lessons were taken from the Common of Virgins. Amongst the Dominicans, the first and second lessons of the second nocturn were proper, and only the third was taken from the Common. The proper lessons are given below:




The liturgical colour for both Office and Mass is white. Saint Pudentiana is not classified as a martyr; it is not mentioned in her vita in the lessons that she suffered martyrdom. Her sister, Saint Praxedes, who survived her, died a martyr’s death.


Holy Mass

Above, we note that the Mass of Saint Pudentiana is taken from the Common of Virgins. The collect in her Office naturally comes from this very same Common. From the great chantbooks of Baclayon, a mission taken over by Recollects after the expulsion of the Jesuits, we see the common propers inscribed (at least, in the index, as the folio containing the first part of the Introit has disappeared) with Saint Rose of Saint Mary of Lima, the Principal Patroness of Indies (and, hence, of the Philippines). From the 1962 Missale Romanum, we have below her common propers:




The collect, secret, and postcommunion from this Mass is used in most places for the Commemoration of Saint Pudentiana in the Mass of Saint Peter Celestine.


Suppression of the Feast
Until the early 20th century, the Feast of Saint Pudentiana reportedly was kept in the Philippines as a quasi-day of obligation. Her name appears on most exemplars of the then common almanaque or kalendaryong Tagalog. In the 60’s, Filipino bishops petitioned Rome to abolish the feast in the Philippines. Apparently, this petitioned was approved, and the Feast ceased to be celebrated after September 1963.


National Church in Rome
In the early 90’s, Pope John Paul II instructed Camillo Cardinal Ruini to find an appropriate church for the Filipino community in Italy. On 10 July 1991, Cardinal Ruini phoned Father Remo Bati, SDB, Chaplain for Filipino migrants, relaying the good news that a suitable church has been found on the Viminal Hill. On 6 October 1991, the Cappellania Cattolica Filippina was inagaurated in the Basilica di Santa Pudenziana.


Exterior of the Basilica di Santa Pudenziana

Fa├žade of the Basilica di Santa Pudenziana

It is an ancient church, one of the domestic churches in Rome, and is perhaps the oldest place of Christian worship in Rome, having been built over the house of Pudens, father of Saint Pudentiana, during the reign of Pope Saint Pius I. It was established in A.D. 112 as a titular church, and the current Cardinal-Priest of the titulus Sanctae Pudentianae is Joachim Cardinal Meisner.

The basilica boasts many works of art with Saint Pudentiana and her sister Saint Praxedes, the most prominent of which is the apsidal mosaic. There are, however, lesser known works of art which feature both saints, such as the one below showing Saint Pudentiana collecting the blood of martyrs and Saint Praxedes placing severed heads in a well.


S. Prassede e S. Pudenziana raccolgono il sangue dei martiri
Giovanni Paolo Rossetti

Another work of art is the painting depicting the entry of Saint Pudentiana in heaven.


L’apoteosi di Santa Pudenziana
Bernardino Nocchi

The minor basilica has since been the National Church of the Philippines in Rome.

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