Admire the Beauty of the Most Holy Eucharist

Get a free eBook, In Adoration of Our Lord, from EWTN. 

At the heart of the Church – and at the heart of papal teachings – is a deep love for the Most Holy Eucharist. Throughout the centuries, the Holy Fathers have spoken of the Blessed Sacrament, indicating their love for Jesus hidden in the Sacred Host and the Precious Blood.

This eBook features photographs taken by the EWTN Vatican Bureau in Rome. These are pictures of Holy Mass, Eucharistic processions, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In addition, each page has quotes from the three most recent popes – Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis – expressing their devotion to Our Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist.

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Why is it called the Lateran Basilica?

The Lateranus family (the Laterini) had owned the property until it was confiscated by the Emperor Nero, who accused the family of conspiracy. From this origin, the place acquired the name the Lateran. It remained in imperial hands for 250 years until Constantine donated it to Pope Sylvester following the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. 

Why is the Basilica also called St. John Lateran?

It was dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, so the reference is to the two Johns associated with our Lord. They became associated with the Basilica owing to the monks from the monastery of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Divine who served there.

I greet you all! And this ‘all’ means ‘each one in particular’. Even if I do not mention your names one by one, I intend nonetheless to greet each of you, calling you by your name! You Romans! How many centuries does this greeting go back? It takes us back to the difficult beginnings of the faith and of the Church, which precisely here, in the capital of the ancient Empire, overcame, for three centuries, its trial by fire: a proof of life. And it emerged victorious. Glory to the Martyrs and Confessors! Glory to Holy Rome! Glory to the Apostles of the Lord! Glory to the catacombs, and to the basilicas of the Eternal City!” – Pope St. John Paul II Homily, Basilica St. John Lateran, Sunday, 12 November 1978

When was the Lateran Basilica built?

After the Emperor Constantine legalized the Faith, he gave various imperial properties around Rome to Pope Sylvester for Church use. These included those of the Lateran and the Vatican. Upon the former, the Pope built his cathedral and residence. The Lateran was completed in 324 A.D., and although rebuilt over time, it has been in continuous service as the cathedra, or seat of authority, of the popes since then. 

Why is the Lateran Basilica important?

The Lateran Basilica is known as the “Mother of all the Churches of Rome and of the world,” as inscribed in Latin on the Basilica’s facade. It is thus ranked first and most important of the four Major Basilicas in Rome, as well, and, owing to its pre-eminence it is also uniquely an Archbasilica. 

“It is the Risen Christ who makes himself present in our today and gathers us around him. By nourishing ourselves with him we are set free from the bonds of individualism and, through communion with him, we ourselves become, together, only one thing, his mystical Body.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Basilica of St. John Lateran, Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Is the Lateran Palace the same as the Lateran Basilica? 

The Lateran Palace and the Basilica of St. John Lateran are not the same. The Basilica is the Pope’s Cathedral, and the adjacent Palace was originally his residence. Although the Lateran Palace was used as a residence by the popes until the 1800s, the re-unification of Italy in 1870 forced Pope Pius IX into refuge in the Vatican, which has remained the papal residence since. Today the Lateran palace continues as the offices of the Diocese of Rome, and where the Pope’s Cardinal Vicar for Rome administers it in the Pope’s name.  Located there, as well, is Pontifical Lateran University, whose chancellor is the Cardinal Vicar.

What are the four major basilicas?

There are four major papal basilicas in Rome. These four are the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major. 

“This Basilica, dedicated to St John the Baptist as well as to St John the Evangelist, is rightly consecrated to the Most Holy Saviour. It is as if, today also, as throughout the centuries, we hear this voice ringing out on the banks of the Jordan. The voice of the Forerunner, the voice of the Prophet, the voice of the Bridegroom's Friend. John spoke as follows: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (Jn 3:30).”  – Pope St. John Paul II Homily, Basilica St. John Lateran, Sunday, 12 November 1978

What makes a church a Basilica?

There are two uses of the name basilica (from the Greek basileus - king). One is the honor given to a church by designation of the Pope; the other is an architectural style based on the design of the ancient Roman law courts. 

Historically, the ancient use preceded the Church’s use. The basilicas were designed to serve as the place where the emperor’s representative sat and judged. They were rectangular in shape with a central nave, at the end of which was a rounded area, the apse, in which the judge sat. Typically, there were two side aisles separated from the nave by columns. Many basilicas were given over to Church-use by Constantine, as they were suitable for the public celebration of Mass. Many of these original basilicas survive, and new churches are still made in this style.

The pope, however, is the only one who can name a basilica in the honorific sense. The title is given to churches of significance to the universal church, to a country, or even a diocese.  There are more than 1,800 basilicas in the world, with 85 in the United States.  In Rome there are four major basilicas, the only ones in the Church, and numerous minor basilicas. The four major basilicas are also called papal basilicas, and historically were called patriarchal basilicas.

Videos About Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

What are the four major basilicas?

A cathedral is the “cathedra” (chair) of the bishop of a diocese. The reference is to the chair or seat of apostolic authority in that place. It is therefore the principle church in a diocese.  A basilica is a church honored by the pope for some notable reason.

The Holy Father can designate a church as a basilica based on the church’s history or architecture. Once a church is named a basilica, this is a permanent title. 

A basilica may or may not be the cathedral for the diocese.