Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The feast of the dedication of Saint John Lateran Basilica

The Catholic Church celebrates today the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. The original structure was built on the order of Emperor Constantine and consecrated by Pope Sylvester I in 324.

It is one of the four Major Basilicas in Rome and serves as the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome who happens to be the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church – the Pope. Inside this magnificent church is a Latin inscription which says: “Omnium ecclesiarum Urbis et Orbis, mater et caput’’ which means, “The mother and head of all churches of the city and of the world.’’

The present structure was commissioned by Pope Innocent X in 1646. It is now considered one of Rome’s most elegant churches. The basilica’s towering fa├žade is crowned with 15 colossal statues of Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, and 12 Doctors of the Church.

According to Church history, the basilica was originally named after Jesus the Most Holy Savior. However, since the edifice was built upon the lot donated by the Laterani family and since the first priests who took care of the custody of the church were from the Monks of Saint John the Baptist, the Archbasilica was named after Saint John Lateran.

Today’s feast of the Anniversary of the dedication of that church has been a long-standing tradition that can be traced back to the 12th century.

The anniversaries of the dedication of churches remind us Christians to always connect with God through prayer and fellowship with the community. All of these happen in the church – the house of prayer, the place where we gather to worship “in spirit and in truth.’’

Our celebration today makes us realize that we are all dwelling places of God. More than the church, we can consider our own selves as “sacred spaces’’ where God resides.

We are indeed “temples’’ made of living stones – holy and beloved as the Great Apostle Paul teaches us. This feast is, therefore, meant for all of us to reflect and ponder on the reality that we are dwelling places of God and we must always make room for Him in our lives.

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