Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran
The Facade of St. John Lateran by Alessandro Galilei, 1735.
Today is the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Archbasilica in Rome that is, technically, the Cathedral Church of the Pope. It sits in the southeast corner of the old city, just inside the Aurelian walls.
The Interior of St. John Lateran. Enclosed in the Baldachin over the altar are the relics of the heads of Sts. Peter and Paul. Inside the altar itself is the relic of an altar of St. Peter.
The Basilica was originally donated to the Church by the Emperor Constantine sometime in the early 4th century. It was officially dedicated by Pope St. Sylvester in 324AD on this day of 9 November. Originally dedicated to our Holy Savior, it has come to be associated also with St. John the Apostle and St. John the Baptist -- hence its popular name, which also notes its location at the Lateran. From that time, until the Popes took up their temporary residence in Avignon during the 14th century, the Lateran Palace adjacent to the Basilica was the residence of the Pope. Indeed, five Ecumenical Councils of the Church have also been held at the Lateran.
By title, the head of state of France, since the time of King Henry IV, is the proto-canon of St. John Lateran. I'd rather not say who that is now. For the sake of trivia, I might note that the King of Spain is the proto-canon of St. Mary Major in Rome.
As the Pope's Cathedral, St. John Lateran is the mother and head Church of Rome and the World!
["Inscription Ecclesiarum Mater San Giovanni in Laterano 2006-09-07" by © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons]
Notably, buried here are Pope Innocent III of the 13th century, Pope Leo XIII, who died in 1903, and housed here are the relics of the heads of Sts. Peter and Paul, an altar of St. Peter, and a piece of wood from the table of the Last Supper.
Here is a link to the official website: Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano
This goes to the Old Catholic Encyclopedia article on the great Church: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Basilica of St. John Lateran
As a final note, on this day 20 years ago, this blogger entered the Roman Catholic Church with his family. Te Deum Laudamus!