Monday, September 26, 2016


Vermeer, Saint Praxedis

Also seen in the form of Praxedis (Latin), Praxede (18th and/or 19th century France), and Prassede (Italian), this unusual saint name is extremely rare and interesting. She comes from Greek praxis, "an accomplishment." PRA-shed-yees and PRAHK-say-dahs are accepted pronunciations in Spanish and Portuguese, while prak-SAY-deez for the Praxedes spelling (like Mercedes) and PRAK-sed-iss for the Praxedis spelling are accepted in English. PRAK-seh-deh is commonly accepted elsewhere.

The Roman female Christian saint died in the year 165, and little is known about her. According to Jacobus de Voragine, her sister was Saint Pudentiana and her brothers were Saint Timothy and Saint Donatus. Sabine Baring-Gould claims she was the daughter of Saint Pudens, also the sister of Saint Pudentiana, but that her brothers were Saint Timothy and Saint Novatus. Some think because her name is not a feminine form of Pudens, she must have been a slave. According to Catholic Online, she was very charitable during the time when Emperor Marcus Antoninus was murdering Christians, until she couldn't bear their suffering anymore and asked God if he could relieve her of her pain.

She has a couple of famous paintings, one as shown above by Johannes Vermeer, which is a copy of a painting by Felice Ficherelli, the other by Simone Pignoni. Three famous people were named for the saint, including Spanish civil engineer/Prime Minister Praxedes Mateo Sagasta (1825-1903), who was given the name because he was born on her feast day; Praxedes Guerrero, Mexican anarchist poet and writer who fought during the 1910 Revolution; lastly Praxede Larue, Quebec physician and politician. There are also four place names for this saint: Santa Prassede church in Rome, Santa Praxedes in Cagayan, Sainte-Praxede in Quebec, and Praxedis G. Guerrero municipality in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

547 Praxedis is a minor planet/asteroid orbiting our sun, named for the character in Joseph Viktor von Scheffel's Ekkehard.

In the U.S. all forms of this name are very rare, with no SSA data and White Pages reporting 425 total Praxedes, 310 Praxedis, a handful of Praxadis and Praxides, 13 Praxede and 5 Prassede. Also of note: 2 Prasseda.

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