Ecclesiam res et talia sermocinamur -

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dedication of St. John Lateran

Today is the feast of the dedication of St. John Lateran. This Roman basillica is actually the cathedral of Rome, the Pope's home church, and as such, the parish to which the entire universal Church belongs. Thus today is a universal feast, just as the dedication of any church is a feast within its parish boundaries. St. John Lateran, named after the wealthy Lateran family that financially supported its original construction, has the full formal name of the Patriarchal Basilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saint John the Baptist at the Lateran.

Prior to the Avignon period, the Lateran palaces were the Pope's primary residence, and held the position that the Vatican does today. It fell into disrepair during the exile due to neglect and earthquake, and subsequent popes took up residence in a series of other palaces, the ultimate of which was, of course, the Vatican. Sixtus V had the old ruins pulled down and erected the current church (a smaller structure) in the 1580s. The church was added on to, improved, and embellished several times, with major alterations in 1650, 1735, and the 1880s.

Today the Palaces adjoining the Basillica contain both the Vicariate's administrative and governing offices as well as the Museum of Catacomb Inscriptions and Christian Antiquities established by Pius IX. The Palace was the site of the treaties that bear its name between His Holiness and the various usurping authorities. The high altar of the Basillica itself houses the remains of the wooden altar used by St. Peter in his celebrations of the mass as pope.

Some other pictures.

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