Dedication of Saint John Lateran

Saint John Lateran Basilica in Rome, Italy.

There are two dimensions to today’s feast: it is the celebration of a building that is the mother church of Christendom. We focus our minds and hearts on the unity and love of the whole Church that finds expression in our fidelity to the one who walks in Peter’s shoes: the Pope.
It is also the feast of the People of God who form the Church. The Second Vatican Council helps us to focus our attention on the mystery of the Church – the sign of unity and the instrument of Christ’s peace on earth. . . .
On this feast of the dedication of the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, let us pray for a strengthening of our communion with each other and with all God’s people across the face of the earth. May the Lord purify the sanctuary of our hearts, and build us up as living stones into a holy temple. May we be filled with consuming zeal for the house of the Lord, our Church, and our churches. May our communion with the Church of Rome confirm us as a vibrant, loving, hospitable universal Church, a place of welcome for all who seek God’s face.

from  “Mother and head of all the churches on earth”

November 9, 2016 — Salt and Light Media



  1. As a place of lawful Christian assembly* within the Roman empire, it’s first and oldest of the early Constantinian era basilicas. It antedates the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in that regard by a generation. There were some older house and cave (not catacomb) churches of extralegal assembly within the Empire, and some outside the Empire in southwestern Asia (in the modern sense of the continent, not the old Roman sense). But the Roman church thinks in Roman ways in defining its mother church. Other ancient communions have their respective mother churches, too.

    And it’s not merely a basilica, but the (single) Archbasilica, of the Most Holy Savior (and SS John the Baptist and John the Evangelist).

    * Toleration (which antedated the imposition of Christianity as the Roman state religion as a legal matter by a few generations) is something we would do well to remember and celebrate rather than elide and take for granted. And it wasn’t even settled within the Roman Empire for another dozen years – it was only after it was settled that Christian bishops could safely travel across the Empire to the first ecumenical council at Nicaea.

      1. ? Not exactly sure how it would be a US neologism given its use (even by, for example, Gibbon) antedates American independence properly speaking, and was quite well established in British usage to be use as shorthand for the so-called Edict of Milan by the classic Encyclopedia Brittanica over a century ago.

    1. Note the free-standing high altar (pre-Vatican II!) and the tabernacle in a side chapel. Note also the papal cathedra in the apse.

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