(Graecized, Πούδης), a Christian friend of Timothy at Rome. St. Paul, writing about A.D. 64, says, "Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia" (2Ti 4:21). Pudens is commemorated in the Byzantine Church on April 14, in the Roman Church on May 19. He is included in the list of the seventy disciples given by Pseudo-Hippolytus. Papebroch, the Bollandist editor (Acta Sanctorum, Maii, 4:296), while printing the legendary histories, distinguishes between two saints of this name, both Roman senators — one the host of St. Peter and friend of St. Paul, martyred under Nero; the other the grandson of the former, living about A.D. 150, the father of Novatus, Timothy (who is said to have preached the Gospel in Britain), Praxedis, and Pudentiana, whose house, in the valley between the Viminal hill and the Esquiline, served, in his lifetime, for the assembly of Roman Christians, and afterwards gave place to a church, now the Church of Sta. Puaenziana, a short distance at the back of the Basilica of Sta. Maria Maggiore. Earlier writers (as Baronius, Ann. 44, § 61; 59, § 18; 162) are disposed to believe in the existence of one Pudens only. About the end of the 16th century it was observed (F. de Monceaux, Eccl. Christianoe Veteris Britannicoe Incunabulu, Tournay, 1614; Estius, or his editor; Abp. Parker, De Antiquit. Britann. Eccl. 1605; M. Alford, Annales Eccl. Brit. 1663; Camden, Britanniac, 1586) that Martial, the Spanish poet, who went to Rome A.D. 66 or earlier, in his twenty-third year, and dwelt there for nearly forty years, mentions two contemporaries, Pudens and Claudia, as husband and wife (Epig. 4:13); that he mentions Pudens or Aulus Pudens in 1, 32; 4:29; 5:48; 6:58; 7:11, 97; Claudia or Claudia Rufina in 8:60; 11:53; and, it might be added, Linus, in 1, 76; 2, 54; 4:66; 11:25; 12:49. That Timothy and Martial should each have three friends bearing the same names at the same time and place is at least a very singular coincidence. The poet's Pudens was his intimate acquaintance, an admiring critic of his epigrams, an immoral man if judged by the Christian rule. He was an Umbrian and a soldier. First he appears as a centurion aspiring to become a primipilus; afterwards he is on military duty in the remote north, and the poet hopes that on his return thence he may be raised to equestrian rank. His wife Claudia is described as of British birth, of remarkable beauty and wit, and the mother of a flourishing family. A Latin inscription found in 1723 at Chichester connects a [Pud]ens with Britain and with the Claudian name. It is as follows, if we fill out the usual abbreviations: "[N]eptuno et Minervae templum [pr]o salute domus divinae auctoritate Tiberii Claudii [Co]gidubni regis le:gati Augusti in Brit., [colle]gium fabrorum et qui in eo [a sacris sunt] de suo dedicaverunt, donante aream [Pud]ente, Pudentini filio." A corner of the stone was broken off, and the letters within brackets have been inserted on conjecture. The inscription thus commemorates the erection of a temple by a guild of carpenters, with the sanction of king Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus, the site being the gift of [Pud]ens, the son of Pudentinus. Cogidubnus was a native king, appointed and supported by Rome (Tacit. Agicola, 14). He reigned with delegated power probably from A.D. 52 to A.D. 76. If he had a daughter, she would inherit the name Claudia, and might, perhaps as a hostage, be educated at Rome. Another link seems to connect the Romanizing Britons of that time with Claudia Ruflna and with Christianity (see Musgrave, quoted by Fabricius, Lux Evangelii, p. 702). The wife of Aulus Plautius, who commanded in Britain from A.D. 43 to A.D. 52. was Pomponia Graecina, and the Rufi were a branch of her house. She was accused at Rome, A.D. 57, on a capital charge of "foreign superstition;" was acquitted, and lived, for nearly forty years, in a state of austere and mysterious melancholy (Tacit. Ann. 13:32). We know from the Epistle to the Romans (16:13) that the Rufi were well represented among the Roman Christians in A.D. 55. Modern researches among the Columbaria at Rome, appropriated to members of the imperial household, have brought to light an inscription in which the name of Pudens occurs as that of a servant of Tiberius or Claudius (Journal of Classical and Sacred Philology, 4:76).
In certain ancient documents, called the Acts of Pastor, it is recorded that Pudens, after the death of his wife, desired that his house should be consecrated as a church, and that this was done; that subsequently, at his daughters' request, a baptistery was constructed there; that these daughters gathered together their slaves, both from the city and from their country possessions, and gave liberty to those who were Christians, and exhorted those who were not believers in the holy law of Christ, and that the act of manumission was celebrated in the title (church) established by Pudens; that there, also, in a time of persecution, Praxedis and Pudentiana sheltered those who through their instrumentality had become believers; and that afterwards, when the latter, and her brother Novatus also, were dead, his property, with the consent of Timotheuas, passed into the hands of Praxedis, by whose request the thermae, or baths, of Novatus, which are described as spacious and no longer in use, were consecrated as a church, in the name of Pudentiana, by Pius (bishop of the Church in Rome, A.D. 139-155). In this place, it is further reported, Pius also consecrated a baptistery. Here, moreover, afterwards, when a great persecution arose, numbers of Christians were concealed by Praxedis, and nourished with food and with the word of God. Pudens and his daughters, it is also narrated, were buried in the cemetery of Priscilla, on the Via Salaria.
Anastasius, librarian of the Vatican in the 9th century, also asserts that Pius dedicated the thermae of Novatus as a church in honor of Pudentiana. The same fact is said to be affirmed by Damasus in the latter part of the 4th century. These may be mere repetitions. The Acts of Pastor locate the house of Pudens in the Vicus Patricius, which corresponds with the modern Via di Sta. Pudenziana. On this street still stands a church, which is reputed to be the oldest in Rome. It is named Sta. Pudenziana, and is supposed to be located where Pudens and his family once dwelt. The text of the Acts of Pastor is unsettled, and is not free from anachronisms. The documents cannot have come in their present form, or forms rather, from their reputed author, or from the 2d century. Since Tillemont's learned criticism, they have fallen into disrepute. The Bollandist writer in the Acta Sanctorum is compelled to propose alterations of the text without authority, and to suppose the existence of two persons. each named Pudens, one either the grandfather or the paternal uncle of the other. Nor does anything preserved in the interior of the present church of Pudentiana carry us back decisively to the first generations of Roman Christians; the older portions of the edifice, however, do contain such indications.
One of the priests of the Church of St. Pudentiana attended a Roman synod in the year 499, and was enrolled as "Presbyter Tituli Pudentis" (Presbyter of the Church of Pudens). The building was repaired or rebuilt under Adrian I (A.D. 772-795); but portions of an older structure remain. The north aisle runs back much beyond the choir and its apse. In its side towards the choir there is a slab with the inscription SIRICIVS EPISCOPVS. Siricius was bishop A.D. 384398. It is thought that at this time, and in that of Innocent I (402-417), an old hall, or basilica, of a family mansion which had been used as a church, and was called "Titulus Pudentis," was taken down, and a new church constructed. One wall, however, was left standing-the one at the end of the north aisle and in the rear of the choir. It is now the outer end wall of the church. This, according to competent judges. is a construction of the 1st century, and a part of some great palace. Its large hall windows can be readily distinguished. Made in the 1st century, they are now filled up with brickwork of the 2d. At this time the hall seems to have been changed for some purpose distinct from its primary design. The present church stands in the original hall of the palace. Probably long before its construction the hall itself was a place of assembly for Christians in Rome. There are, also, some subterranean chambers, said to have been first opened in 1865. Here are three long, narrow, vaulted rooms, now opening into each other, but originally separated by brick walls. The walls are regarded as 1st-century work; but the openings which throw together the three chambers were evidently made subsequently, and apparently in the 2d century. This is indicated by the construction of the arches. In the original or 1st-century wall may still be seen hot-air flues, such as belong to thermae. The cutting of the arches would have spoiled the baths. It secured an admirable arrangement for the meetings of a Christian Church in troublous times. The combined chambers made a spacious room. remote from the street and below its level. Its windows were apertures in the clear-story, and opened into an inner area. Worship could be conducted without attracting attention. The testimony of the walls and the bricks and the arches thus accords with the ancient tradition that the disused baths of Novatus, the son of Pudens, were dedicated about the middle of the 2d century as a Christian church. It is thought that in still another room of this subterranean portion of the traditional mansion of Pudens there was once a baptistery. Tradition may present another point of contact with these baths. In Justin Martyr's examination by the praefect of Rome (about A.D. 166), the following dialogue is reported:
"Praefect. Where do you assemble?
"Justin Where each one chooses and can... . The God of the Christians is not circumscribed by place, but, being invisible, fills heaven and earth, and everywhere is worshipped and glorified by the faithful.
"Praefect. Say, where do you assemble, or into what place do you collect your disciples?
"Justin. I dwell above one Martii's, at the Timotine Bath. ... I know of no other meeting than his.
"Praefect. Are you not, then, a Christian? "Justin. Yes, I am a Christian." In the Roman tradition, the house of Pudens was the place where Christians coming to Rome were freely entertained; and in the baths of Novatus or Timotheus were held, in Justin's time, Christian assemblies.
On the Via Salaria is a cemetery called after Priscilla, the traditional mother of Pudens, which bears unmistakable signs of having been used by persons of wealth and standing belonging to the earliest generations of Roman Christians. These evidences are sufficiently indicated in Northcote and Brownlow's Roma Sotteranea, and need not here be specified. It may be added, however, that, in the lower story of this catacomb, imprints have been found of the seal of a PUDENS FELIX upon the cement which closes a loculus or grave (De Rossi, Imnages de la T. S. Vierge choisies dans les Catacombes de Rome [Rome, 1863], p. 17). The cognomen suits exactly the tradition that the Pudens family belonged to the gens Cornelia (Cornelius Sulla being the first who took the surname Felix), and the further uniform tradition that this cemetery was their burial-place. The traditions are thus confirmed which represent a Pudens family of wealth and distinction to have been very early connected with the Christian Church in Rome. They increase so far the coincidences in favor of the identity of Martial's friends with the Pudena and Claudia of Paul's Epistle. The resemblance is one of family distinction, as well as of name, time, and place. See The House of Pudens in Rome: a Lecture delivered to the Royal Archceological Institute, June 2, 1871, by John Henry Parker, C.B., F.S.A., etc.; reprinted from the Archceological Journal.
On the whole, although the identity of St. Paul's Pudens with any legendary or heathen namesake is not absolutely proved, yet it is difficult to believe that these facts add nothing to our knowledge of the friend of Paul and Timothy. The identity is favored by Alford, Conybeare and Howson, and others. Objections to the details of tlhe story do not seem to be insuperable. The difficulty is that so much is pure conjecture. In the Acts of Pastor, the wife of Pudens, and mother of his children, is named Savinilla. The Welsh legends are said to affirm Pudens's marriage with Gladys, the daughter or niece of Caractacus. The facts and arguments are treated at great length in a pamphlet entitled Claudia and Pudens, by archdeacon Williams (Llandovery, 1848), p. 58; and more briefly by dean Alford, Greek Testament (ed. 1856), iii, 104; and by Conybeare and Howson, Life of St. Paul (ed. 1858), ii, 594; also by Lewin, St. Paul, ii, 392 sq. They are ingeniously woven into a pleasing romance by a writer in the Quarterly Review, 97, 100-105. See Prof. Smyth in the Biblioth. Sacra, 1875, p. 174 sq.; also Usher, Eccl. Brit. Antiquitates, § 3, and Stillingfleet, Antiquities.