Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Catholic Word of the Day: ST. JOHN LATERAN, 05-26-09 ^ | 05-26-09 | Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary

Posted on 05/26/2009 2:53:19 PM PDT by Salvation

Featured Term (selected at random):


One of five great basilicas in Rome and the mother and head of all churches. It was founded by Emperor Constantine (c. 274-337) near the Lateran Palace, which he presented to Pope Sylvester as his episcopal residence and which was used by all the popes until 1309 when the papacy moved to Avignon. The church was dedicated to the Holy Savior and became the prior church of Christendom. Its canons even to take precedence over those from St. Peter's. The primitive church was destroyed by earthquake in 898. The reconstruction was partly burned in 1308 and rebuilt. The present interior is severe byt rich in its proportions. Paired columns, with niches between and holding mammoth statues of the Apostles, fill both sides of the nave, while above them are reliefs taken from the Old and New Testaments. Still higher up are medallions of the Prophets leading the eye to the gorgeous ceiling with the numerous papal arms and emblems of Christ's Passion. The apse, reconstructed by Pope Leo XIII, contains precious mosaics of the thirteenth century depicting the union of the kingdom of earth and heavenas united in baptism. The high altar covers many relics including the heads of St. Peter and Paul, and St. Peter's small altar from the catacombs. Preserved here is the cedar table that accordin gto tradition was used at the Last Supper. As long as the popes were in residence at the Lateran Palace, the basilica saw the coronations and entombments of the popes and was the place where four ecumenical councils were held in 1123, 1129, 1179, and 1215. Connected with the famous basilica is the Lateran Baptistery, for a long time the only one in Rome and since then the model fro all others. Constatine was baptized in the year 337 shortly before his death, at the porphyry bath that is still preserved there.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiclist
Toe Pope's Cathedral
1 posted on 05/26/2009 2:53:20 PM PDT by Salvation
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Salvation

The Pope’s Cathedral

2 posted on 05/26/2009 2:55:14 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: JRandomFreeper; Allegra; SuziQ; BlackVeil; Straight Vermonter; Cronos; SumProVita; ...

Catholic Word of the Day – not linked – but you can do a search to find them.


Consecration to the Sacred Heart


Rules of Conscience

St. John Lateran


Catholic Word of the Day Ping!

Please send me a FReepmail if you would like to be on the Catholic Word of the Day Ping List.

3 posted on 05/26/2009 2:56:33 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Salvation

St. John Lateran, Holy Cross of Jerusalem, Holy Stairs

- early Rome Christian churches, monuments and sights near Monti -

In addition to the many important churches and monuments in the heart of the Monti quarter, around it you find churches and sights which are of paramount importance in the history of the wester world. Firstly, St. John Lateran (San Giovanni in Laterano).

St John Lateran

St. John Lateran (San Giovanni) basilica, the facade, and the square

Right: Interior, the Gothic papal canopy (baldaquin). It contains a wooden altar supposedly used by the early popes, from St. Peter to St. Sylvester, to celebrate Mass. It also includes silver busts with remains of the skulls of St. Peter and of St. Paul. )


It was the first church which the Christians were enabled to build, having granted the permission from emperor Constantin, who also converted to Christianity, and who legalized Christianity with the Edict of Milan of 313 AD. The church was built in the most peripheral area within the Aurelian walls, today part of Rome's centre. You will find below a photo of the ancient Appian Gate of the walls, near to the church. St. John Lateran (San Giovanni in Laterano in Italian) is one of the few "Patriarchal Basilicas" which are part of the Vatican City, although they are out of the Vatican area. The others are St. Mary Major, Holy Chross of Jerusalem, and St. Paul out of the Walls. Three out of four of these basilicas are situated in the Monti-Esquiline area.

The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope. It is run though by a Cardinal who is vicar of the Pope (currently, Cardinal Ruini).

The main front bronze door is that of the Curia, or ancient Rome's senate.

The church was re-built many times because of natural disaster, and its final renovation and facade are work of architect Alessandro Galilei, and were finished in 1734. In the entrance you find the original ancient statue of emperor Constantin, found in the imperial termhae near of the Quirinal hill.

The coffered ceiling (left photo), gilded with real gold, is together with St. Mary Major's the most amazing of all Italian churches. It is said that the first gold which arrived from the newfound Americas were used for the roof. It is the work of pupils of Michelangelo, and it was finished in 1562 AD.

The wonderful mosaic in the apse (right photo) shows Jesus while the apostles in the foreground. Many popes are buried in the basilica.

The estate of this area was acquired by Constantin though his marriage with Fausta (emperor Maxentius' sister). Soon after, the Emperor razed the adjoining imperial horse-guards barracks (allegedly the equites singulares had supported Maxentius against Constantine) and commissioned on the site the construction of the world's first Christian basilica.

The grave of Pope Leo XIII

(Left): the altar with the wooden table supposedly
used by Jesus and the Apostles for the last supper.

Entering the transept, we pass to the sixteenth-century Mannerism. Pope Clement VIIIemployed his favorite architect, Giacomo della Porta, and painter, Cavaliere d'Arpino to direct the works, deploying the top Mannerist painters of the day. They executed a series of frescoes around the entire left and right transepts, telling the story of Constantine and St. John Lateran. On top of an altar on the left side of the transept you find a wooden table which according to tradition was used by the Apostles for the last supper.

The beautiful 13th century cloister
it is the work of Pietro Vasselletto and son. As it is typiucal of their work, you find jewel-like mosaics, elegant arches with paired spiral and smooth columns, and finally odd animal and floral motifs.

The bronze statue of St. Francis (top photo) and of his friars in front of the Church commemorates the visit of the saint to Pope Urban VIII. The Pope had been ill-advised by his counsellors to meet what they described as a radical preacher. The Pope instead admired his humility and faith.

The Baptistery (right photo) , to the left of the St. John Basilica, was originally built by Constantine, and it was substantially restored by Pope Urban VIII. One of its doors is described in Dante's "Divine Comedy" to be the gate of Purgatory. It is extremely heavy and it makes a weard sound when moved.


Adjoining the Basilica, you find the Lateran Palace (Palazzi Lateranensi). They are the seat of Rome's Diochesis, and also of many Catholic Churches organizations around the world. In fact, St. John as mentioned is the most ancient Western Basilica, and considered the mother of all Catholic churches. Rome's Bishop is the Pope, however the Diochesis is run by a Cardinal Vicar, who currently is Monsignor Ruini.

It was formerly property of the ancient Roman patrician Laterani family (hence the basilica's appellation "Lateran"). They were accused by Nero of plotting against him and they were thus confiscated. After the building of the basilica by Constantin, the Lateran palace, known as the Patriarchate, was the Pope's official residence until the fifteenth century.

Right: Lateran Palace

Rome Lateran Palace

Near the Basilica you find the ancient Appian Gate of the Aurelian Walls (right photo). Nowadays it is closed to traffic, and it is an archaeological site only. It is also 3 meters below the current surface level, as it can bee seen in comparison to the current level of the nearby New Appian Way (Appia Nuova).

Just after the gate, the popular Roman quarter called "San Giovanni" begins, with one of Rome's most charming street markets, situated in Via Sannio (top photo).

Only 400 meters distant you find the Basilica of Holy Cross of Jerusalem (Santa Croce in Gerusalemme). According to tradition, the basilica was consecrated around 325 AD to house the Passion Relics brought to Rome from the Holy Land by St. Helen, mother of Constantine. The basilica floor was covered with soil from Holy City, thus acquiring the title "in Hierusalem".

Holy Cross of Jerusalem: facade
Interior, the beautiful canopy

The famous relics, whose authenticity is disputed, are now housed in a Chapel (the Cappella delle Reliquie). They include: a part of the panel which was hanged to the Christ's Cross; two thorns of his crown: an incomplete nail; and three small wooden pieces of the Cross itself. A much larger piece of the holy cross was brought from this church to on instruction of Pope Urban VIII in the year 1629. It is kept nearby the statue of St. Helena, completed in 1639. You also find a finger of St. Thomas and fragments of the grotto of Bethlehem.

Near the Church of the Holy Cross you find the largest and most sumptuous of all the gates of the ancient Rome Aurelian Walls. It is hence called Porta Maggiore, or Major Gate (left photo).

Right in front of it you find a funerary monument of an ancient Roman baker or "Pistorium" (left photo) , probably a liberated slave. The monument has many mouths of ovens displayed, and also engravings depicting the bakers work and life.

The majestic Appius Claudius aqueduct (top photo) reaches the Aurelian Walls exactly at Porta Maggiore. After a small tract, it reaches the "Castellum Divisiorum" or dividing castle, to clean and divide the water in various parts of town. It is situated in todays square "Piazza Vittorio Emanuele", and it is called "Trofei di Mario" from the statues which adorned it, which made archaelogists believe is was a celebrative monument.

4 posted on 05/27/2009 9:00:21 AM PDT by annalex (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: annalex
Source for the above: St. John Lateran, Holy Cross of Jerusalem, Holy Stairs.
5 posted on 05/27/2009 9:01:31 AM PDT by annalex (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson