Sunday, December 28, 2014

Rome: Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris et Sanctorum Iohannes Baptista et Evangelista in Laterano

Our day was a bit backwards today; I had planned on getting up early, doing laundry, then going to church and having lunch in the vicinity thereof. Instead, I slept badly last night, which means I got up later, so Ed and I did laundry later than planned, had lunch at a Chinese restaurant (because we're both a bit tired of all that wonderful Italian food of which we've been eating so much), relaxed during the afternoon, and caught an early evening Mass at the Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris et Sanctorum Iohannes Baptista et Evangelista in Laterano, which translates as the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist at the Lateran and is more commonly known as St. John Lateran's Archbasilica, St. John Lateran's Basilica, or simply the Lateran Basilica. It's the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome - Pope Francis.

The fourth century basilica was originally dedicated to Christ the Savior, with the co-dedications to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist only coming centuries later in the first half of the 1700s (during the fifth year of the papacy of Clement XII). 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.

Some of the stonework was beautiful; gigantic statues of many of the apostles lined the aisle, such as in the case St. Peter, statues of which were found on either side of the Papal altar:

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

Another example of the stonework, located in one of the side aisles:

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

What was interesting was that the side aisles were somewhat plain in décor and artwork (stonework aside), yet the main aisle's ceiling, the area behind the altar, and the altar itself was decorated quite extensively. This is the canopy above the Papal altar; many of the Papal coats of arms lined the ceiling, like a path to the altar. This is the main aisle, leading to the Papal Altar; you can see many of the apostolic statues on either side:

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

And a closeup of the canopy above the Papal altar:

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

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