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Rome to celebrate 1,700th birthday of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran

The Basilica of St. John Lateran. / Credit: Hannah Brockhaus/CNA

Vatican City, Nov 9, 2023 / 04:00 am (CNA).

The Diocese of Rome has planned a full year of events to mark the 1,700th anniversary of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, which was dedicated on Nov. 9, 324.

The church is the cathedral of the diocese and the seat of the bishop of Rome, the pope. Until the 14th century, the adjoining palace served as the papal residence.

While St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist are the archbasilica’s patrons, it is called St. John Lateran because it was built on property donated by the Plautii Laterani family during the Roman Empire.

The date of the basilica’s dedication, Nov. 9, in the year 324 by Pope Sylvester I is a feast day in the Church.

A Latin inscription in the church reads: “Omnium ecclesiarum Urbis et Orbis mater et caput,” which means in English: “The mother and head of all churches of the city and of the world.”

“The cathedral of Rome, Mater et Caput of all the Churches of Rome and the world, is a very special point of reference for our diocese and for the universal Church,” Rome’s vicar, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, said in a post on the Diocese of Rome website.

“In it one breathes the history of 17 centuries, of a basilica built and rebuilt three times, up to the present building of 1700. Five ecumenical councils have taken place in it,” he continued.

“In the See of the Chair of Peter,” De Donatis said, “all Christians of the world feel the bond with the bishop of Rome. In this place we Christians of Rome recognize once again the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, pointed out by [John] the Baptist. Here we feel, like [John] the beloved disciple, the beating heart of Christ, the Savior, consumed with love for all humanity. In the school of the two ‘Johns’ we find the particular vocation of our Church called to preside in charity.”

The Diocese of Rome will open the year of celebrations with a solemn pontifical Mass celebrated by De Donatis in the afternoon on Nov. 9. The Mass will include music written for the occasion by Father Marco Frisina, Italy’s most popular contemporary composer of religious hymns.

Other events planned throughout the year include concerts, Masses, and religious-cultural talks about the history of the archbasilica and the adjoining Lateran Palace.

The anniversary celebrations will close with Mass on Nov. 9, 2024.

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