Saint John Lateran
Saint John Lateran is said to be “The Mother Church of the World”. There are four churches considered as the great patriarchal basilicas of Rome namely: St. Peter’s Basilica, St. John Lateran Basilica, St. Mary Major Basilica and St. Paul’s Basilica outside the walls. All these basilicas are remarkable and St. John Lateran is the oldest of them all. As the Pope's church and the cathedral of Rome it is also the ranked above all of the other world’s churches and that is why it is also known as the “mother of all Churches”.
From the beginning of the 4th century, St. John Lateran was given to the pope by Emperor Constantine. At the time it was the palace of the Lateran and it became the principal residence of the popes for nearly one thousand years. St. John Lateran was burned, ravaged by earthquakes, sacked and rebuilt several times over the years. In the 10th century, Sergius III restored the basilica after it was burned and thereafter, it was expanded and renovated by Innocent II. The original remains of the St. John Lateran building can still be traced in the city walls outside the gate of St. John.
The architectural structure of St. John Lateran is outstanding. The architecture and decoration of this building are amazing; it is full of decorations, artworks, and statues. It is a tourist attraction that manages to attract as many tourists. St. John Lateran marks the start of the Catholic Church and it plays a significant part in the Roman Catholic Church’s history. It is this church that marked the beginning of the construction of other Catholic churches across the. When Pope Francis I was elected as pope, St. John Lateran is one of the places he first visited, together with the other three basilicas.
St. John Lateran contains six papal tombs belonging to: Alexander III (right aisles), Sergius IV (right corridor), Clement XII (left corridor), Martin V (in front of the confession), Innocent III (right transept), and Leo XIII (left transept). Other papal tombs were constructed in the St. John Lateran Basilica but they were destroyed when it was burned by the raving fires in 1308 and 1361.
There are many things to see in and around St. John Lateran. Some of these include: the holy stairs known as the "scala Sancta", the Lateran baptistery, the Lateran cloister, the Cathedra, the statues of all the Apostles, the beautiful main altar and the obelisk.. If you have never visited St. John Lateran, then take the time to go there; you will definitely love the place and everything that there is to see there. There are guided tours everyday where you are taken through the basilica and showed everything it contains. This is the best way to learn more about the history of the Roman Catholic Church especially because it is the “mother” of all the Catholic churches.
The present archpriest of St. John Lateran is Agostino Vallini who assumed the position on the 27th of June 2008.