The S. Prassede basilica apse space has been modified significantly many times over the centuries, however elements and conditions enabling us to retrace its original 9th century layout as a whole have survived. On the basis of this, and new measurements and discoveries, fresh observations can be made designed to shed light on the original layout of the pre-eminent space of the religious structure, built at the behest of Pasquale I. This enquiry has also had to take account of precious reconstructions and theories put forward by a range of scholars but its conclusions on various aspects are new.These have led to precise calculations regarding the height, depth and façade of the apse podium in relation to the fenestella confessionis, together with specifications relating to the width of this same platform, determining its boundaries in the direction of the transept wings.All this relates to a semi-annular crypt configuration characterised by having been entirely underground. These show, lastly, that the six decorated columns, now at either side of the presbytery after an 18th century reorganisation, were previously alongside the podium as a diaphragm as regards the transept arms. The analysis of the sources (the Liber Pontificalis, the 18th-century sources and the archive records), the study of the fragmentary pluteus, the measures of the presbyterial space and the proportional relationship of some architectural elements (porphyry columns / Corinthian columns) allowed to formulate an hypothesis on furnishings and liturgical layout, even in lack of archaeological evidence. Santa Prassede’s architects used traditional specimina to develop innovative chancel barriers: between the «old style» and «new style» solution of San Clemente (6th/12th-century). Paschal's chancel barriers stress the canonical separation between the clergy and the plebs Dei: the areas reserved to high and low clergy left the remaining of the nave to laity, also separated men from women, nobles from all the others.
Ballardini, A., Caperna, M. (2020). A Santa Prassede, nella Gerusalemme nuova. L'assetto architettonico dello spazio absidale, l'arredo e la disposizione liturgica. CONVIVIUM, Supplementum 2002, 176-205.