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The Basilica of St. John Lateran outranks all of the other basilica of Rome (including St. Peter's) and is the Cathedral of Rome.  It was built on the orders of Emperor Constantine and consecrated on November 9, 318 AD. For many centuries, it and the adjoining Lateran Palace, were the Holy See of the Catholic Church.  Like all the other major basilicas in Rome and much other property, it has an extraterritorial status to Italy and belongs to the City State of the Vatican.



The facade of the basilica from Piazza di Porta San Giovanni.  A portion of the Lateran Palace is appended on the right.



The statues on the central part of the roof with Christ the Redeemer in the center.




Translated to English:  "Cathedral of Rome and of the World."




The Holy Door on the right of the front.  Used only in Jubilee years at the direction of the Holy Father.




The central main doors.  Approximately 25 feet in height.  They are made of bronze and were originally on the Curia (Senate House) in the Roman Forum.




The right aisle of the basilica from the front.




A side chapel on the right aisle.




Another side chapel on the right aisle.




Statue of Cardinal Pietro Gasparri from the right aisle.




Sarcophagus of Antonio Cardinal Portogallo in the right aisle.




The entrance from the right aisle to the right transept.




A side chapel near the right transept.




The basilica apse and the Papal Cathedra (throne).




One side of the choir with an organ.




The apse and a portion of the ceiling in the nave.




The main organ.




The Altar of the Holy Sacrament.  The marble and bronze columns came from the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill.  The bronze was reportedly recast from the bronze prows of Cleopatra's ships taken in battle by Augustus.  The altar contains remnants of the cedar table used by St. Peter in Mass.




The confessio in front of the altar area has a statue of St. John the Baptist.  The basilica is dedicated to both St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.



One of the most noteworthy artistic treasures of the basilica is a set of 12 larger-than-life-sized statues on the columns of the nave toward the apse.  The statues were created after 1703 by various sculptors and portray the apostles of Jesus.  The choice of sculptors was made on the basis of a competition sponsored by Pope Clement XI to pick the best design for each. To view the pictures of these works, click here.  A link at the bottom of that auxiliary page will return you to this point.



The High Altar in the apse with the baldacchino and confessio in front.  The cagelike structure atop the baldacchino contains sculptured busts of St. Peter and St. Paul and are said to contain fragments of the skulls of the two saints. The High Altar is built around an ancient cedar table reputed to be the table used by Christ and the Apostles at the Last Supper.  It was brought out of Jerusalem when it was overrun by the Muslims.




Grave of Pope Leo XIII.


Pope Benedict XIII memorial.



A side chapel of particular beauty near the left transept.




Pieta by Antonio Montauti, 1734.



Statue in the left aisle.



Door to the side chapel of Pope Clement XII in the left aisle.


The chapel of Clement XII.




On the portico near the front entrance, a statue of the Emperor Constantine, the first Christian emperor.



The Triclinium Leoninum.  Located across the street from the basilica, this is a remnant of the ancient Lateran Palace.  This portion would have been the interior apse of that building.  It is ornately decorated with mosaics.  The building attached on the left contains the Scala Sancta, the marble stairs from the front of the palace of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem.  The stairs that Christ would have been dragged up to his trial.  They were disassembled and shipped to Rome and are a very high order shrine.  Pilgrims are allowed to climb the stairs only on their knees.  Due to our limited schedule and Roman siesta hours, I was unable to visit them.  Next time.



The Aurelian Wall of 267 AD.  The Porta di San Giovanni gate is further down the street.