This weekend’s newsletter can be downloaded here:
Word format: Dedication of St John Lateran
Pdf format: Dedication of St John Lateran
To us in Australia, it may seem a bit strange to have a feast to celebrate the dedication of a Church in Rome. But let’s not be superficial.
If we want to understand this feast we need to be attentive to the meaning of church buildings, says Fr Robert Barron. Click on the links below to listen:
Fast facts about St John Lateran:
- St John Lateran is the oldest of all the Roman Basilicas.
- It is the mother church of all Catholics. The dedication plaque describes the church as: Omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater, et caput or, “of all the churches of the city and the world, the mother and head”.
- Enclosed inside the stone and marble altar, is an ancient wooden altar which tradition says is the altar used by St Peter when he was leader of the Church in Rome. It was brought by Constantine and Sylvester from the church of Santa Pudenziana which was built in 140-155 A.D. during the pontificate of the 10th pope, Pius I. Santa Pudenziana is the oldest place of Christian worship in Rome, and was the residence of the Pope prior to the move to the Lateran.
- Inside the canopy above the altar are reliquaries containing the heads of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Paul was beheaded around the years 64-67.
- It was consecrated in 324 A.D. by the 33rd Pope, St Sylvester I.
- In the apse of the church is the cathedra of the bishop of Rome, that is the teaching chair of our spiritual father, the Pope.
- The land was donated by Constantine to the then bishop of Rome, the 32nd Pope Miltiades who presided over the Lateran Synod in 313, which declared Donatism to be a heresy. (The Donatists held that people who had fallen away from the faith during the persecution of Diocletian, could not be forgiven and go on to become priests dispensing valid sacraments.)
- The name Lateran comes from the land which was owned by the noble Imperial Roman family of the Laterani.
- Finally, it is important to remember that it is the original dedication of this church to Christ the Saviour that we are celebrating on 9th November. St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist are co-patrons of the cathedral.