Basilica of St. John Lateran

Rome, Italy



Basilica of St. John Lateran

Basical John Lateran CloistersAfter the many trips to Rome, it was not until 2008 that we visited the Basiciliar of St. John Lateran. What a site the Basicilia is, and the cloisters were so unexpected in terms of what we expected to see in the heart of Rome.

The cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, the bascilia holds the the papal throne and ranks above all other churches in the Roman Catholic Church.

Sitting on a site of a Roman Palace, the Laterani was a place for the administrators of several Roman emperors. One of Laterani of note was Consul-designate Plautius Lateranus. Known because he was accused by Nero of conspiracy against the emperor.

As a result, his properties were confiscated. The Lateran Palace came into the possesion of the emperor. It was given to the Bishop of Rome by Constantine.

The palace basilica was converted and extended, and eventually became the cathedral of Rome, the seat of the popes as bishops of Rome. The official dedication of the Basilica and the adjacent Lateran Palace by Pope Sylvester I in 324.

Basilica St John Lateran


Cloisters Basicilica St John LateranThe Papal Throne was placed inside making this the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome.

Two fires took their tool of the Palace and the basilica in 1307 and again in 1361. Deemed inadequate as the papal residence the Popes took up residency at the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere and later at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. With the Palace of the Vatican constructed the Popes moved in.

Pope Sixtus demolished and rebuilt Lateran Palace and the Basilica, each becoming separate structures.

Between the basilica and the city wall there was a great monastery. The monks provided services in the basilica. What survives is the 13th-century cloister, surrounded by graceful twisted columns of inlaid marble. They are of a style intermediate between the Romanesque proper and the Gothic, and are the work of Vassellectus and the Cosmati.