St John Lateran Basilica: Our Universal Parish
Mosaics in the Apse of St John Lateran Basilica
"The Chair of Peter presides over the whole assembly of charity."
~St Ignatius of Antioch
I have to be honest; I have never really given too much thought to today's feast of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. However after listening to our priest's homily at Mass this morning, I have a new appreciation for this feast and the basilica.
The Pope is the bishop of Rome, and this basilica is where he carries out his ministry as such. The basilica, and today's feast are a sign of unity in our one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. While there are various chuches, places in which we worship, across the globe, there is only one Catholic Church. In our English vernacular, we sometimes say we are from or we belong to St such and such church. Perhaps it would be more correct to say that I attend St such and such church, but I belong to the Catholic Church of which there is only one. As our priest this morning pointed out, the belonging to various churches is a Protestant notion.
Now I don't mean to get caught up in semantics, it was just that father's homily this morning made me think about what I say and how I say it.
For a little bit of history on this feast, it is interesting to note that the basilica was first dedicated to Jesus Himself as Basilica Salvatoris~the Basilica of the Savior. Later it was dedicated to John the Baptist and John the Evangelist because of an adjoining Benedictine monastery which had these two Johns as their patrons. The members of this monastery were given the charge of holding regular services in the basilica. (This little bit of history comes from Fr. Richard Veras in his article on today's feast in Magnificat.)
Jesus prayed that we all may be one. In these difficult times, the Catholic Church is experiencing divisions on some subtle and not so subtle levels. Let us pray that Christ's prayer for unity in His Church will be fulfilled.
So happy feast of the Dedication of St John Lateran, for this feast is the feast of our Universal Parish!
*If you are interested in more on the history of this feast and the basilica, like any good teacher I am going to let you all do it yourself this time. If you Google it, you will find any number of articles for your reading pleasure.