Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran

Many think that St. Peter's Basilica is the head of all the churches but in fact it is the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Every bishop has a cathedral and the Pope's cathedral is the Basilica of St. John Lateran not the Basilica of St. Peter. The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral of Rome and was the Pope's official residence until the 15th century.
This magnificent Church was first called the Basilica of the Savior but later was also dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist and so it acquired the name Basilica of St. John Lateran. When the Papacy transferred to Avignon for about a century, the condition of the Lateran deteriorated so much that when the Papacy returned to Rome the Pope lived in two other locations before finally settling adjacent to St. Peter's Basilica where he now lives.
The word "basilica" comes from the Greek word meaning royal or royalty. the church itself was usually divided by columns into a nave and two aisles.
In the course of its history, St. John Lateran suffered just about as many disasters and revivals as the papacy it hosted. When the Popes returned from their sojourn in Avignon, France (1304-1377), they found their basilica and palace in such disrepair, that they decided to transfer to the Vatican, near St. Peter's (that basilica, also built by Constantine, had until then served primarily as a pilgrimage church).
Several important relics are kept within the Lateran basilica. The stairs was brought to Rome by Constantine's mother St. Helena.
Many important historic events have taken place in St. John Lateran, including 5 Ecumenical Councils and many diocesan synods.


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