Visiting St. John Lateran Basilica – The Mother Church of the World

March 17, 2013

Papal Election

By Scot Landry

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The election of Pope Francis occurred at least a day earlier than most prognosticators predicted.  We are blessed with our new Holy Father.  The early election also provided us with an opportunity to visit some of the sites away from St. Peter’s Square, since we weren’t needed to be around for the smoke twice per day.

George and I decided to visit the other 3 patriarchal basilicas.  There are 4 in total in Rome, St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul’s outside the walls.  All are beautiful.  One of my favorite discussions with pilgrims to Rome is which of the 4 major basilicas is one’s favorite?  In the last 18 years I’ve been doing this, since I first visited Rome in September of 1995, I can say that it is about 25% for each of the Basilicas.  In some ways, that’s probably the way it should be.

In between other events we wanted to cover, George and I took the Metro to visit St. John Lateran and then St. Mary Major on Friday afternoon.  We visited St. Paul’s outside the walls on Saturday afternoon after Pope Francis met with the credentialed journalists in town to cover the papal transition.  We’ll have separate posts for each of the Basilicas.


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Saint John Lateran is the cathedral of Rome.  Because of that, it is a privileged seat of papal authority, symbolized by the Bishop of Rome’s cathedra (“teaching seat.”)  Every Cathedral has a “Cathedra.”  Many Catholics often think that St. Peter’s Basilica is the Cathedral of Rome but it’s St. John Lateran.  Because of it’s status as Rome’s Cathedral, St. John Lateran is considered the “first of the world’s Churches” and also the “mother of all Churches.”

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The word “Lateran” comes from the area of Rome where the Basilica is located.  The façade on the entrance and the central statue above it proclaims “Christ the Savior” in honor of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist.

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There are many things that stand out about this Church.  The Cathedra.  The beautiful main altar.  The huge statues of all the Apostles.

We encourage you to spend a few moments on each of these photos.

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The Holy Door for the Jubilee Years (every 25 years, next one 2025) – Inside and Outside

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The side entrance and the obelisk:

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Here’s a link to a website with more historical information on the Basilica of St. John Lateran:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_St._John_Lateran

Thank you for visiting this blog for our special coverage here from Rome at TheGoodCatholicLife.com.  George’s photos can be viewed at www.BostonCatholicPhotos.com.

Scot Landry and George Martell

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