Thursday, November 09, 2006

Celebrating the Pope's Cathedral

Today is the feast of the dedication of the Cathedral Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist at the Lateran. Commonly called St. John, Lateran or the Lateran Basilica, this is the Cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome. St. John, Lateran, not St. Peter's is the Pope's church.

While the dedication of a cathedral is usually only celebrated in the diocese in which the cathedral is located, St. John, Lateran holds such an important place in the Church that it's dedication is celebrated as a mandatory feast throughout the world. In fact, it is one of the few feast days which is celebrated on Sunday, should the feast happen to occur on a Sunday.

Despite what I have heard tour guides and countless others say, there is no Saint named John Lateran. Rather, the basilica is dedicated to both St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist and is built on land once owned by the Lateran family. Under the altar is a wooden table believed to be the altar on which St. Peter, the Apostle celebrated Mass.

Tradition also holds that the baldachino hold the heads of both St. Peter and St. Paul.

It was the first basilica and it's construction was ordered by Constantine, The original building was destroyed by earthquake, then rebuilt and destroyed by fire and rebuilt again. Although the building which is currently standing is not the original, it maintains the original layout.

On a related note, today is the second anniversary of my son's baptism. Yes, he was baptized on a Tuesday.

All photos by Domini Sumus

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