Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rome, Italy 12'10'2013

It is very hard to write an unbiased post about a place that I have always wanted to go to. Especially when it is a church in Rome and a very significant church at that. I kept secret my knowledge of this place until the time that I would finally tour it which was a few days ago. I would like to introduce to you the Lateran Church - The mother and head of all the churches of the world.


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I was very lucky to have gotten this trip to Rome. I thought I was going to go to Milan but due to various reasons I was given this flight to Rome at the very last moment.

Even when all my plans were for Milan. I already had a place in mind where I wanted to go to in Rome. A place where I have never had the opportunity to go to in the past because of time constraints. This time, my time was still very much contained but it was the only place I was planning to go to so I was desperate to reach it.

When we arrived at the hotel. Everyone was going out to the city. Everyone immediately changed their clothes and waited for the bus to the city center.

When we were at the bus I tried to take a picture with my camera but lo and behold - it had absolutely no charge in its battery. I could not believe I forgot to charge it. I felt sad and pissed. I was itching to go to that particular place in Rome and without my camera how will I properly capture the trip?

I decided to leave everyone and go back to the hotel, charge my camera for an hour, and head out to the city alone. It wasn't an easy decision to make but I was very passionate about going to that place.

When I charged my camera for an hour, I headed on out. Dusk had already fallen and night came. I never turned on my camera going out after the charge until my destination because it only had an hour's worth of battery life. When I reached the city center, I walked from Via Petrocelli, past the Colosseum, went through Via San Giovanni in Laterano and then finally to my conquest. The Lateran Church.

Ceiling above the eastern entrance of the Lateran Church.
Papal Regalia and Insignia above the eastern entrance to the Lateran Church.
The full title and description of the Lateran Church is:

Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris et Sanctorum Iohannes Baptistae et Evangelistae in Laterano - Sacrosancta Lateranensis ecclesia omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput.

Which translates to:

Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist at the Lateran - The Most Holy Lateran Church, of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head.

Please take a moment to grasp the immense meaning of the whole title and description above.

Done? OK.

Now I am not a particularly uber-religious person but the sheer significance of this place and the fact that it is so unknown to many and everyone I know, is the reason why I wanted to go to it and make this post about it.

It is the only Roman Catholic church in the world that is an Archbasilica. It ranks the first and the highest among all the churches in Rome and in all of Christendom even above Saint Peter's Basilica. It is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome which makes it the seat of the Bishop of Rome as the Papal Cathedra itself is housed within the church. It is literally and descriptively The Mother of all Churches...

The Papal Cathedra (the throne of the pope) in the apse of the Lateran Church.
A semi dome directly above the Throne of the Pope depicting the transfiguration of Jesus Christ.
The place was breathtaking. Inside, I immediately saw the throne of the Pope in the apse and I spent a significant amount of time and battery in my camera trying to get a perfect shot of it. The throne of the Pope was directly behind and center of the altar.

The first thing you'll notice inside was gold. Everything was decorated in gold especially the ceiling. The paintings were vividly colored, and the inscriptions and statues were so detailed that I immediately realized and felt that this church, even by its interior's appearance alone, was of great importance. Hands down, for me, it was the most grand and most beautiful church I have ever been to even more than Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican and even more than Almudena Cathedral in Madrid.

The nave of the church viewed from the altar with huge statues of the Twelve Apostles surrounding it.
The nave of the church viewed from the main entrance on the side near the aisles.
The Papal Seal and Insignia in the ceiling above the nave.
The main door of the church viewed from inside directly center of the nave.
The nave of the church were surrounded by huge statues of the Twelve Apostles made from white marble and the frames that house them were made of black marble. And above each statue were the Stations of the Cross. Above the nave, the ceiling was embedded in gold painted in striking colors and decorated with huge symbols of the Pope - the Papal Regalia and Insignia.

I was overwhelmed by the church's interior. It just had so much going on inside it. Like each part is an art piece you'd just have to stare at to fully appreciate.

The patron of the Lateran Church is Christ the Saviour. That is why huge statues of the apostles surround the nave. Its co-patrons are Saint John The Baptist and Saint John The Evangelist hence its full title.

An angel decorating one of the windows in the church
Angels decorating pillars in the aisles of the church above each side of the nave.
Angels decorating the ceiling in the aisles beside the nave.
Latin inscription above the main entrance of the church.
The decorations even in the aisles of the church is nothing short of amazing, each angel decorating the walls, ceilings, pillars, windows of each of the two aisles looked like they were really painstakingly made. Each could easily pass as an art piece by themselves.

I was frantically trying to capture good photos of the church interior because I had little battery and I had little time left, I was worried that I couldn't take a picture of it all in time and sure enough I couldn't.

When the guards were calling for people to exit. I went out the main entrance and took these photos...

Statue of a Roman Emperor west of the main entrance. I couldn't get close enough to see who.
Upper Facade of the Lateran Church. This is above the main entrance.
A closer look. The inscription: Christo Salvatori meaning Christ the Saviour as he is the patron of the Lateran Church.
Inscription beside each post of the entrance.
The inscription pictured above is one of two, each is located at the bases of the posts by the main entrance of the facade. It declares the claim to the title of the Lateran Church.

It reads:

Sacros(ancta) Lateran(ensis) eccles(ia) omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput.

Which means:

The Most Holy Lateran Church, of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head.

This inscription can also be found in the Papal Lateran Cross.

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It is a sad thing how a place so significant for Roman Catholics is left unknown even among it's most dedicated followers.

The great erroneous belief of Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican to be the center of the Roman Catholic church, maybe, is the reason why people barely go to the Lateran Church. Or maybe it's because Saint Peter's is the largest church? The most expensive? regardless, it still isn't the center.

To you, whoever is reading this post, when you are in Rome, at least after you visit the Vatican, make your way to the Colosseum, take pictures, then go to the back of it, find the road called Via San Giovanni in Laterano. Go on and head straight through it, just straight through, no turns, passing it's numerous cafes until you see a large obelisk called the Lateran Obelisk (which btw is the tallest standing Obelisk in the world which I forgot to take a picture of which I will take a picture of next time) and from there go inside the eastern entrance of the Lateran Church to, at least, visit the real center of Christendom.

Until my next trip, Ciao!