Not far from the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is the little Santa Prassede, a 9th-century church with stunning mosaics inside.
The Basilica of Santa Prassede was started in the late 8th century (there’s an even older church dedicated to Santa Prassede underneath it) and completed in 822 AD. The saint entombed here, Santa Prassede (or Saint Praxedes), was the daughter of the first Roman who St. Peter converted to Christianity.
The mosaics on the interior of the church are Byzantine, dating from the early 9th century, and are reminiscent of those in Venice’s St. Mark’s Basilica and the churches of Ravenna. They’re dazzling in gold and bright colors.
Among the other things to see inside the church is a bust for a tomb that was sculpted by Bernini when he was only 17 years old, and the original crypt near the altar. This is where the bones of Saint Praxedes (and her sister, Saint Pudenziana) were placed when the church was completed. There is also a reliquary containing what is said to be a piece of the pillar on which Jesus was flogged before being crucified.
The main entrance of the church on Via di San Martino ai Monti is not the original facade, but entering through the main door allows you to see the original 9th-century facade that is now contained inside a little courtyard.