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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography


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Pastor (1). This name is connected with traditions of the Roman church which though accepted as historical by Baronius and other writers including Cardinal Wiseman (Fabiola p. 189) must be rejected as mythical. These traditions relate to the origin of two of the oldest of the Roman tituli those of St. Pudentiana and St. Praxedis which still give titles to cardinals and the former of which claims to be the most ancient church in the world. The story is that Peter when at Rome dwelt in the house of the senator Pudens in the vicus Patricius and there held divine service his altar being then the only one at Rome. Pudens is evidently intended as the same who is mentioned 2Ti_4:21. His mother's name is said to have been Priscilla and it is plainly intended to identify her with the lady who gave to an ancient cemetery at Rome its name. The story relates that Pudens on the death of his wife converted his house into a church and put it under the charge of the priest Pastor from whom it was known us "titulus Pastoris." This titulus is named in more than one document but in all the name may have been derived from the story. Thus in the Acts of Nemesius pope Stephen is said to have held a baptism there (Baronius a.d. 257 n. 23). Our story relates that the baptistery had been placed there by pope Pius I. who often exercised the episcopal functions in this church. Here the two daughters of Pudens Pudentiana and Praxedis having given all their goods to the poor dedicated themselves to the service of God. This church under the name of Ecclesia Pudentiana is mentioned in an inscription of a.d. 384 and there are epitaphs of priests tituli Pudentis of a.d. 489 and 528 (de Rossi Bull. 1867 n. 60; 1883 p. 107). The original authority for the story appears to be a letter purporting to be written by Pastor to Timothy (see Boll AA. SS. May 19 iv. 299). He informs Timothy of the death of his brother Novatus who during his illness had been visited by Praxedis then the only surviving sisters. He obtains Timothy's consent to the application of the property of Novatus to religious uses according to the direction of Praxedis; and baths possessed by Novatus in the vicus Lateritius are converted into a second titulus now known as of St. Praxedis. This titulus is mentioned in an epitaph of a.d. 491 (de Rossi Bull. 1882 p. 65); and priests of both tituli sign in the Roman council of 499. On this letter are founded false letters of pope Pius I. to Justus of Vienna given in Baronius (Ann. 166 i.) a forgery later than the Isodorian Decretals. Those who maintain the genuineness of the letter of Pastor are met by the chronological difficulty of connecting Pudens with both St. Paul and Pius I. It has been argued that such longevity is not impossible; and it has been suggested that Praxedis and Pudentiana were not grand-daughters of Pudens. But the spuriousness of the whole story has been abundantly shown by Tillemont (ii. 286 615).


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Pastor'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

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