Archbasilica of St John Lateran with Papal Tombs and the great Statues of the Apostles

Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, Rim, Italija

Website of the Sanctuary

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7:00 to 18:30

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Papal Audience are held on Wednesdays if the Pope is in Rome, giving pilgrims and visitors the chance to “see the Pope” and receive the Papal Blessing or Apostolic Blessing from the successor of the Apostle Peter during their visit. Get tickets HERE

It is the oldest and ranks first among the five Papal Basilicas of the world and the four Major Basilicas of Rome (all of which are also Papal basilicas), being the oldest church in the West and having the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome. It has the title of ecumenical mother church among Roman Catholics.

The Basilica of St John Lateran

The basilica of Saint John in Lateran was built under pope Melchiade (311-314), it’s the most ancient church in the world. Due to the fact that the pope is also the bishop of Rome, Saint John in Lateran – being seat of the bishop’s residence. See our Top 15 catholic shrines around the world.

See more Italian Catholic shrines and Basilicas

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Opening times of MUSEUM OF CHURCH 10:00 to 17:30

Virtual tour of Basilica of Saint John Lateran – HERE

As the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, it ranks above all other churches in the Catholic Church, including St. Peter’s Basilica. For that reason, unlike all other Catholic basilicas, it is titled Archbasilica.

Full name of the Basilica of St John Lateran: Major Papal and Roman Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in Lateran Mother and Head of all churches in Rome and in the World.

Statues of the Apostles

The great statues of the Apostles that we can admire today in the borrominian niches were made by sculptors of the late baroque in the beginning of 1700.

Each statue was to be sponsored by an illustrious prince with the Pope himself sponsoring that of St. Peter and Cardinal Pamphili that of St. John the Evangelist.

Papal tombs

There are six extant Papal tombs inside the Archbasilica:

  • Alexander III (right aisles),
  • Pope Sergius IV (right aisles),
  • Pope Clement XII Corsini (left aisle),
  • Pope Martin V (in front of the confessio);
  • Pope Innocent III (right transept); and
  • Pope Leo XIII (left transept), by G. Tadolini (1907).

The last of these, Pope Leo XIII, was the last Pope not to be entombed in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Holy Stairs

The Scala Sancta, or Holy Stairs, are white marble steps encased in wooden ones. According to Catholic Tradition, they form the staircase which once led to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem and which, therefore, were sanctified by the footsteps of Jesus Christ during His Passion.

The basilica Saint John Lateran

History of the Basilica of St John Lateran

The present structure of the Basilica of St John Lateran resembles the Saint Peter’s basilica.

The original plan had already five aisles. The ancient church was residence of the popes until the coming back from the exile in Avignone (1377), when it was moved to the Vatican.

It was pillage-stock of the Visigoths (410), the Vandals (455); the earthquake in 896 caused the central aisle roof to collapse (rebuilt under pope Sergio III in 904-911).

Put on fire in 1308 first and in 1361 then, it was remade under the pontificate of Gregorio XI (1370-1378), following the plan of the ancient structure that had by then become a ruin.

The repair works continued during the entire fifteenth century and the sumptuous ceiling was realized in 1562.

Sisto V (1585-1590) ordered the construction of the Blessings Lodge (positioned at the end of right side aisle), and the making of the Lateranense building assigning the project to Domenico Fontana.

After about 140 years Pope Innocenzo X Pamphili (1644-1655) decided in 1646 to bring the cathedral to new splendour entrusting Francesco Borromini of the repair.

The architect was supposed to finish the works in time for the Holy Year of 1650 and had to reserve (according to the pacts with the pope) the structure of the ancient Basilica of St John Lateran. The artist put 12 niches spaced up by 5 huge arches supported by as many pillars in the mid aisle.

In 1731 Pope Clement XII (native from Florence) summons a competition for the new façade of Saint John in Lateran. The winner – without too much merit – is the Florentine Alessandro Galilei (the second place is for Luigi Vanvitelli, with a much better project) who in 1735 finishes the works of the present façade.

Under the ogival tabernacle (at the end of the central aisle, in the transept) is the papal altar where only the Pope can give mass. Above the sacramental altar there’s a fragment of the table on which Jesus consumed the last supper.

The Cathedral hosts also Jesus’ blood, brought to Rome by centurion Longino.

Numerous are the chapels of noble families (Orsini, Torlonia, Massimo…) realized by some of the best artists of the different epochs. In the intermediate right aisle, close to the first pillar, one can admire “Boniface VIII proclaims the Jubilee of 1300”, a fresco made by Giotto.

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It is the oldest and ranks first among the five Papal Basilicas of the world and the four Major Basilicas of Rome (all of which are also Papal basilicas), being the oldest church in the West and having the Cathedra of the Bishop of Rome. It has the title of ecumenical mother church among Roman Catholics.

Opening times of MUSEUM OF CHURCH 10:00 to 17:30

Virtual tour of Basilica of Saint John Lateran – HERE

Papal tombs

There are six extant Papal tombs inside the Archbasilica: Alexander III (right aisles), Pope Sergius IV (right aisles), Pope Clement XII Corsini (left aisle), Pope Martin V (in front of the confessio); Pope Innocent III (right transept); and Pope Leo XIII (left transept), by G. Tadolini (1907). The last of these, Pope Leo XIII, was the last Pope not to be entombed in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Holy Stairs

The Scala Sancta, or Holy Stairs, are white marble steps encased in wooden ones. According to Catholic Tradition, they form the staircase which once led to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem and which, therefore, were sanctified by the footsteps of Jesus Christ during His Passio

MASS weekdays:

  • 7:00 (Altar of the Blessed)
  • 7:30 (Chapel Massimo) July and August suspended
  • 8:00 (Adoration Chapel)
  • 9:00 (Chapel Massimo)
  • 10:00 (Chapel Massimo) July and August suspended
  • 11:00 (Chapel Massimo) in July and August in the Adoration Chapel
  • 12:00 (Chapel of Adoration) July and August suspended
  • 17:30 (Chapel of Adoration)

MASS holidays:

  • 7:00 (Altar of the Blessed)
  • 8:00 (Chapel of Adoration)
  • 9:00 (Papal Altar)
  • 10:00 (Papal Altar)
  • 11:30 (Papal Altar)
  • 12:30 (Papal Altar )
  • 15:45 only on Saturdays when celebrate Confirmation (Papal Altar) suspended in August
  • 17:30 Saturday and Sunday (Papal Altar)

History

The present structure of the Basilica resembles the Saint Peter’s basilica. The original plan had already five aisles. The ancient church was residence of the popes until the coming back from the exile in Avignone (1377), when it was moved to the Vatican. It was pillage-stock of the Visigoths (410), the Vandals (455); the earthquake in 896 caused the central aisle roof to collapse (rebuilt under pope Sergio III in 904-911). Put on fire in 1308 first and in 1361 then, it was remade under the pontificate of Gregorio XI (1370-1378), following the plan of the ancient structure that had by then become a ruin. The repair works continued during the entire fifteenth century and the sumptuous ceiling was realized in 1562.

Sisto V (1585-1590) ordered the construction of the Blessings Lodge (positioned at the end of right side aisle), and the making of the Lateranense building assigning the project to Domenico Fontana.
After about 140 years Pope Innocenzo X Pamphili (1644-1655) decided in 1646 to bring the cathedral to new splendour entrusting Francesco Borromini of the repair. The architect was supposed to finish the works in time for the Holy Year of 1650 and had to reserve (according to the pacts with the pope) the structure of the ancient Basilica of St John Lateran. The artist put 12 niches spaced up by 5 huge arches supported by as many pillars in the mid aisle.

In 1731 Pope Clement XII (native from Florence) summons a competition for the new façade of Saint John in Lateran. The winner – without too much merit – is the Florentine Alessandro Galilei (the second place is for Luigi Vanvitelli, with a much better project) who in 1735 finishes the works of the present façade. Under the ogival tabernacle (at the end of the central aisle, in the transept) is the papal altar where only the Pope can give mass. Above the sacramental altar there’s a fragment of the table on which Jesus consumed the last supper. The Cathedral hosts also Jesus’ blood, brought to Rome by centurion Longino. Numerous are the chapels of noble families (Orsini, Torlonia, Massimo…) realized by some of the best artists of the different epochs. In the intermediate right aisle, close to the first pillar, one can admire “Boniface VIII proclaims the Jubilee of 1300”, a fresco made by Giotto.

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