Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano

The Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano continues to be an important center for Catholic worship and pilgrimage, reflecting the rich history and spiritual significance of the Church in Rome. The Lateran Basilica, is the cathedral church of Rome and therefore houses the cathedra, or seat of the Roman Pontiff (Pope). It is the oldest of and has precedence among the four papal major basilicas, all of which are in Rome. It has the title of ecumenical mother church of the Roman Catholic faithful.

The Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, commonly known as the Lateran Basilica, is one of the four major basilicas in Rome and holds the status of being the Cathedral of the Pope as Bishop of Rome. Here are some key details about this significant religious site:

  1. Location: The Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano is located on the Caelian Hill in Rome. It stands near the ancient Roman city walls and is situated slightly to the southeast of the Colosseum.
  2. Historical Significance: The basilica is the oldest of the four major basilicas in Rome and holds a special place in Catholicism. It was consecrated by Pope Sylvester I in the 4th century and has served as the primary residence of the Pope before the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica.
  3. Architecture: The current structure is a result of several reconstructions and renovations over the centuries. The façade has a Neoclassical design, and the interior features impressive artwork, chapels, and a papal altar.
  4. Lateran Obelisk: In the square in front of the basilica, there is an ancient Egyptian obelisk, known as the Lateran Obelisk. It was originally erected at the Temple of Amun in Karnak, Egypt, and was later transported to Rome.
  5. Statues of the Apostles: The basilica is known for its twelve statues of the apostles along the roofline, creating a distinctive visual element.
  6. Holy Stairs: Adjacent to the basilica is the Scala Sancta (Holy Stairs), believed to be the steps from Pontius Pilate’s palace that Jesus climbed during his Passion. Pilgrims ascend the stairs on their knees as an act of devotion.
  7. Lateran Palace: Connected to the basilica is the Lateran Palace, which served as the residence of popes for many centuries. It now houses the Lateran Museum.
  8. Papal Archbasilica: The Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano holds the title of “Archbasilica” and is the highest-ranking of all the Catholic churches, including St. Peter’s Basilica. It is the mother church of the Diocese of Rome and, by extension, the entire Catholic Church.


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