Basillica of St. John Lateran

(San Giovanni in Laterano)
Named for John the Baptist
Rome, Italy

The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome.

St. John Lateran Basillica

Apse at St. John Lateran Basillica
(edited for perspective)
Photograph by Tango7174 1

As the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, it ranks above all other churches in the Catholic Church, including St. Peter's Basilica. For that reason, unlike all other Roman Basilicas, it holds the title of Archbasilica. The archbasilica's name in Latin is Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris et Sanctorum Iohannes Baptista et Evangelista in Laterano, which translates in English as Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist at the Lateran.

Coat of arms of Pius IV Medici

St. Peter by Pierre-Étienne Monnot
Photograph by Marie-Lan Nguyen 2

The Lateran Palace fell into the hands of the emperor when Constantine I married his second wife Fausta, sister of Maxentius. Known by that time as the "Domus Faustae" or "House of Fausta," the Lateran Palace was eventually given to the Bishop of Rome by Constantine. The actual date of the gift is unknown but scholars believe it had to have been during the pontificate of Pope Miltiades, in time to host a synod of bishops in 313 that was convened to challenge the Donatist schism, declaring Donatism as heresy.

Coat of arms of Pius IV Medici

Coat of arms of Pius IV Medici. From the ceiling of the Basilica of St. John Lateran
Photograph by Marie-Lan Nguyen 3

St. John Lateran Basillica

Side Aisle of St. John Lateran Basillica
(edited: perspective adjustment)
Photograph by Charlie Chapman 75 4

For 300 years the early Catholics were tortured to death for the faith. St. Helen, Constantine's mother, had been praying and talking to her son for years. Finally Constantine was converted and things changed. Through the prayers of a holy mother an empire was conquered.

St. John Lateran Basillica

Apostle Philip, St. John Lateran Basillica
(edited for perspective)
Photograph by Bill Powers 5

St. John Lateran Basillica

St. John the Baptist
Photograph by Fr. Lawrence Lew 6

Architectural Summary

Architects:

Date:

Style:

Alessandro Galilei

324 A.D.

Cathedral Baroque

St. John Lateran Basillica

Altar View at St. John Lateran Basillica
(edited for perspective)
Photograph by Fr. Lawrence Lew 7

It is the oldest and ranks first among the four Papal Basilicas or major basilicas of Rome. It claims the title of ecumenical mother church among Roman Catholics. An inscription on the façade, 'Christo Salvatori', indicates the church's dedication to "Christ the Saviour", for the cathedrals of all patriarchs are dedicated to Christ himself.

St. John Lateran Basillica

St. John Lateran Basillica
Photograph by Pedro Reis 8

St. John Lateran Basillica

St. John Lateran Basillica
Crossing of the Nave and Transept
Photograph by Grant Bishop 9

St. John Lateran Basillica

St. John Lateran Basillica
Photograph by George Reader 10

The palace basilica was converted and extended, becoming the residence of Pope St. Silvester I, eventually becoming the cathedral of Rome, the seat of the popes as bishops of Rome. The official dedication of the Basilica and the adjacent Lateran Palace was presided over by Pope Sylvester I in 324,

St. John Lateran Basillica

St. John Lateran Basillica
Photograph by George Reader 11

St. John Lateran Basillica

St. John Lateran Basillica
(edited for perspective, cropping) Photograph by Theresa Simmilich 12

St. John Lateran Basillica

St. John Lateran Basillica
(edited for perspective)
Photograph by Theresa Simmilich 13

On the day of the dedication of the Arch-Basilica of the Divine Savior by Pope Sylvester, November 9th, there appeared miraculously in front of all the Romans an image of Our Savior on the wall. 1,2

St. John Lateran Basillica

Dome at St. John Lateran
Photograph by Fr. Peter Carota 14

References

Images

See Tabs: (Resources / Website / Image Resources) for common image sources.