Category Archives: Virtual Tour of St. John Lateran

The Amazing Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is a UNESCO Site in Rome Italy

English: Basilica of St. John Lateran - apse I...

English: Basilica of St. John Lateran – apse Italiano: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano – l’abside Polski: Bazylika św. Jana na Lateranie – apsyda (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (San Giovanni in Laterano) is Rome’s cathedral. It serves as the the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope as the Bishop of Rome. Pope Benedict celebrated the Mass for the feast of Corpus Christi here and then lead a Corpus Christi procession along Rome’s Via Merulana, which links the basilicas of St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore).

English: Doctors of the Church. Attic of the B...

English: Doctors of the Church. Attic of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome). Français : Docteurs de l’Église. Attique de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome). Italiano: Dottori della Chiesa. Attico della Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Roma). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the roofline, note the statues of  the Doctors of the Church: Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, and Pope Gregory I who were the original Doctors of the Church in 1298. Doctors of the church are individuals who are recognized as having special importance, usually regarding their contributions to theology or church doctrine.

Doctors of the Church. Attic of the Basilica o...

Doctors of the Church. Attic of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome). Français : Docteurs de l’Église. Attique de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome). Italiano: Dottori della Chiesa. Attico della Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Roma). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Basilica of St. John Lateran, cathedral of the...

Basilica of St. John Lateran, cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, Italy. Español: Basílica de San Juan de Letrán, catedral del Obispo de Roma, Italia. Italiano: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, Roma Polski: Bazylika św. Jana na Lateranie (znana jako Bazylika Laterańska), katedra biskupa Rzymu, Włochy. Português: Basílica de São João de Latrão, catedral do Bispo de Roma, Itália. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Doctors of the Church. Attic of the Basilica o...

Doctors of the Church. Attic of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome). Français : Docteurs de l’Église. Attique de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome). Italiano: Dottori della Chiesa. Attico della Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Roma). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

St. Matthew by Camillo Rusconi. Nave of the Ba...

St. Matthew by Camillo Rusconi. Nave of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome). Français : Saint Matthieu, par Camillo Rusconi. Nef de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pope's chair, Basilica di San Giovanni in Late...

Pope’s chair, Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, Roma, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a virtual tour of St. John Lateran http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_giovanni/vr_tour/index-en.html

Lateran papal altar

English: Basilica of St. John Lateran - detail...

English: Basilica of St. John Lateran – detail Italiano: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano – un particolare Polski: Bazylika św. Jana na Lateranie – herb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The archbasilica contains the papal throne (Cathedra Romana) that is located in the Aspe behind the papal altar http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_giovanni/vr_tour/Media/VR/Lateran_Nave1/index.html.  The altar contains the skulls of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Lateran ceiling

There are interesting sites in the complex. I love the ornate ceiling and the beautiful statues.

St. Andrew by Camillo Rusconi. Nave of the Bas...

St. Andrew by Camillo Rusconi. Nave of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome). Français : Saint André, par Camillo Rusconi. Nef de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The decorated ceiling of the Basilica of St. J...

The decorated ceiling of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take time to visit the charming cloister

San Giovanni in Laterano (cloister)

San Giovanni in Laterano (cloister) (Photo credit: MarcelGermain)

Here’s a virtual tour ot the cloister http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_giovanni/vr_tour/Media/VR/Lateran_Cloister/index.html.

Basilica of St. John Lateran - statue of St. J...

Basilica of St. John Lateran – statue of St. John Italiano: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano – la statua di san Giovanni Polski: Bazylika św. Jana na Lateranie – figura św. Jana Apostoła (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ancient baptistery was also built by Constantine and was converted from a Roman temple. The Lateran Baptistery is one of the oldest in Christendom. The present name is a result of the importance of the baptistry of the church, and of the presence of a Benedictine monastery dedicated to Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. Here’s a Virtual tour of the Baptistery: http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_giovanni/vr_tour/Media/VR/Lateran_Baptistery/index.html

English: St. James the Great by Camillo Ruscon...

English: St. James the Great by Camillo Rusconi. Nave of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome). Français : Saint Jacques le Majeur, par Camillo Rusconi. Nef de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lateran baptistery building

San Giovanni in Laterano was the first cathedral of Rome. This was the first Constantinian Basilica and is the oldest basilica in the world, founded in 311 and consecrated in 324. Emperor Constantine gave Pope Melchiades a parcel of imperial property for a church and a papal residence. It was known as “Lateran” because the property previously belonged to the family of Plautius Lateranus of the former Roman Empire. The Laterani lost their properties to Emperor Constantine who in turn gave it to the Christian Church in 311.  The basilica suffered extensive damage during the earthquake of 896 and was restored by Sergius III who dedicated it to St. John the Baptist. Later, Saint John the Evangelist was added as a patron of this church by another pope.

English: Main façade of the Basilica of St. Jo...

English: Main façade of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome) by Alessandro Galilei, 1735. Italiano: Facciata principale della Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Roma), progettata da Alessandro Galilei (1735). Français : Façade principale de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome) par Alessandro Galilei, 1735. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The popes lived in the Lateran Palace adjacent to the church until Clement V (1305-14) transferred the papal seat to Avignon in France. The popes lived at Palazzo Laterano from the time of Constantine until 1304 when the Papacy moved to Avignon. When the popes returned to Rome in 1377, the papacy moved to the Vatican. Excavations beneath the basilica have uncovered pagan buildings and foundations of the 4th century Constantinian basilica.

San Giovanni in Laterano

San Giovanni in Laterano (Photo credit: sgatto)

Lateran Palace on the left of the obelisk

The central bronze doors came from the Curia of the Roman Senate in the Forum. The Holy Door is on the far right. The main travertine facade is on Piazza di Porta Giovanni with five entrances that lead to the portico with five more doorways.

Lateran door

On the top front entrance of the basilica, Jesus Christ is carrying a cross. He is surrounded by St. John the Evangelist, St. John the Baptist and the Doctors of the Church.

Lateran roofline with Jesus and saints

In 1646, the basilica was in danger of collapsing so Pope Innocent X gave the task of restoring it to Francesco Borromini.  Pope Innocent X had the interior completely remodeled by Borromini in preparation for the Jubilee (Holy Year) of 1650. It was during Borromini’s restoration that the church was given its Baroque appearance. The eastern façade was created in 1736 by Alessandro Galilei with statues of saints welcoming visitors.

In front of the north facade ( adjacent to the Lateran Palace) you can find the Lateranense obelisk. It is the tallest obelisk  in Rome that dates back to 1500 B.C.  and weighs over 230 tons. The red granite obelisk in the square in front of the Lateran Palace was originally commissioned by Pharaoh Thuthmose III and completed by his grandson Thutmose IV and stood in the temple of Amun in Karnak. It was placed in the Circus Maximus until Pope Sixtus V had Fontana re-erect it in this square in 1588 in place of the equstrian statue of Marcus Aurelius that was moved to the Capitoline Hill.

Lateran obelisk inscription

Lateran obelisk

Lateran rear entrance

The Renaissance coffered ceiling is attributed to Pirro Ligorio and was started in 1562 during the pontificate of Pius IV.

The apsidal mosaic was restored by friars who were commissioned by Nicholas IV (1288-1292). The apse mosaic depicts the miraculous appearance of Christ in the basilica’s apse at the time of its consecration by Pope Sylvester.

There are beautiful statues in the nave in grey marble aedicules. The statues are flanked by verde antico columns.

Lateran coffered ceiling and apse mosaic

Lateran Saint Peter

The monumental tomb of Leo XIII by Giulio Tadolini is over a door leading to the Sacristy.

The archbasilica has a lavishly decorated interior. The Lancelloti Chapel was designed by Francesco da Volterra and rebuilt by Giovanni Antonio de Rossi. The  “Saint Francis of Assisi recieves the stigmata” painting was done by Giovanni Battista Puccetti in the altarpiece.

Lateran fresco

Lateran fresco Mary Immaculate by Placido Costanzi

There are additional parts of the Lateran complex worth visiting in close proximity to the church.  Walk over to the  Scala Sancta to see the Sancta Sanctorum and the Triclinium of Pope Leo III  These Holy Stairs are particularly attractive for Christian pilgrims who wish to honor the Passion of Jesus. These are the marble stairs that were brought to Rome from Jerusalem in 326 AD by Saint Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine. These are the stairs that Jesus climbed on his way to his trial with Pontius Pilate; the staircase leading once to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate at Jerusalem .

The Scala Sancta (Holy Stairs) consists of twenty-eight wooden steps that encase white marble steps and are sanctified by the footsteps of Jesus Christ during his Passion. The marble stairs are visible through openings in the wooden risers. The stairs are located  in a building which incorporates part of the old Lateran Palace, located opposite the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. They are located next to a church which was built on ground brought from Mount Calvary. The stairs lead to the Sancta Sanctorum ( Holy of Holies) which is the personal chapel of the early Popes in the Lateran palace, known as the chapel of St. Lawrence.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides. To learn more about Rome visit www.vino-con-vista.com

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