Celtic and Old English Saints          7 August

* St. Claudia

The Christian faith came to England in the first century AD. Tertullian
wrote a tract against the Jews about 200 AD and mentions that there were
areas in Britain that were inaccessible to the Romans but had been
conquered by Christ. The first notable Christian was probably a man
named Bran, who was the father of Caractacus, king of the Silurian tribe
in Britain. He, and his family were taken captive to Rome in 50 AD, and
faced a public execution. Included in this party were Bran's father Llyr
Llediaith, his son Caractacus, and the children of Caractacus who
included the beautiful Claudia and probably Linus. When they arrived in
Rome, in chains, the emperor Claudius had Caractacus brought before the
Roman Senate. There he made an impassioned speech and as a result was
not only given a pardon but also a pension and rooms in the Imperial
palace. Caractacus was eventually returned to England as a puppet king
but his family were retained in Rome as surety for his loyal behaviour.
They were allowed to live normally in Rome. It was probably during this
time that the whole family became Christians. We do know from Paul's
epistle to the Romans, written in 58 AD, that there were several
Christians in Caesar's household at this time. It is very likely that
these people shared the Christian gospel with the Royal hostages who
were also living in the imperial palace.

It is possible that it was this same Linus who became one of the leading
members of the church in Rome. A Linus eventually became its senior
elder or bishop in the latter half of the first century. Clement, the
early church father, who lived in Rome at this time wrote of the
"saintly Linus, brother of Claudia". Bran, Linus and Claudia's
grandfather, eventually returned to Britain in AD58 where he was the
focus for the church that developed around him. The ancient Welsh Triads
tell us that,

"Bran brought the faith of Christ to the Cambrians."

It was likely that this same Claudia married a young Roman Senator named
Pudens, whose full name was Rufus Pudens Pudentia. His family owned a
large home in the centre of Rome. A Spanish poet, called Martial, lived
in Rome at this time. He was not only a contemporary of Pudens but also
his friend. He usually wrote short scurrilous poems but he treats his
friends marriage with great respect. Several of his poems mention this

"O Rufus, my friend Pudens marries the foreigner Claudia."

Although Claudia was a relatively common name, the following poem
suggests that this Claudia was the daughter of Caractacus.

"Concerning Claudia Rufina -
Seeing Claudia Rufina has sprung from the azure Britons, how come she
has the feeling of a Latin maid?
Thanks to the gods, she has borne many children to her holy husband."

The description of a Roman Senator as being 'holy' is most unusual and
taken together with other information does suggest that he had become a
Christian. This affluent couple used their home as a Christian centre,
and it is likely that Paul might have visited their house. At first this
house, which still stands in Rome was called the 'Palatium Britannicum',
presumably because of the link with the family of Caractacus. Another
name was the 'Hospitium Apostolorum', or 'Apostles House'. The apostles
referred to probably included Paul and Peter. Today the house is called
'St. Pudentiana'. There is an inscription on the wall of this house

"This is the house of Sanctus Pudens, in which many martyrs were buried
by Pudentiana and Praxedes themselves."

Praxedes was one of the sons of Pudens and Claudia. It is known that the
children of this couple were martyred for their Christian faith. Another
interesting fact is that Emperor Constantine the Great, the first
Christian Roman Emperor, was himself a fourth generation descendant of
Caractacus through another of his sons, Cyllinus. Cyllinus' son was
named Coel, who during his short reign founded the fortress town of
Colchester in Essex, which still bears his name. Most people know of him
as 'Old King Cole' of nursery rhyme fame! Coel's daughter, Helen, was a
Christian and she became the mother of Constantine the Great.

Although the precise details of this story are not proven, it does
demonstrate how active the early church was. It is also fascinating
because Paul mentions the names of these leading Roman Christians in one
of his epistles to Timothy.

"Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the
brothers." (2 Timothy 4 v. 21)

Another Life:

1st century. Saint Claudia, mother of Pope Saint Linus, is said to have
been the daughter of the British king Caractacus, who was sent to Rome
with his family in chains when he was defeated by Aulus Plautius.
Released by Emperor Claudius, one of his daughters took the name
Claudia, remained in Rome, was baptized, and is the Claudia mentioned in
Saint Paul's second letter to Timothy (4:21). Another tradition makes
her the daughter of Cogidubnus, a British ally of Claudius, who took the
emperor's name. In a third postulation, Martial mentions a British lady,
Claudia Rufina, and says she was married to his friend Aulus Pudens, a
Roman senator, which would mean she was the mother of Saints Praxedes
and Pudentiana. Another tradition has this senator the Pudens also
mentioned in the same letter of Saint Paul (2 Timothy 4:21)
(Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopaedia).

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