First Sunday of Lent

On the First Sunday of Lent, the Romans gather at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, the Mother of all churches in the world. By definition, it is the most important church in the whole world, and the only church with the title of Archbasilica. Along with other major basilicas and certain buildings, it enjoys extraterritorial status of the Holy See (Vatican City State) according to the Lateran Treaty.

Constantine donated the land he had received from the wealthy Lateran family to Pope Sylvester, who built this magnificent basilica and consecrated it in 324. This remained the residence of popes until the 15th century. Although the Bishop of Rome no longer lives here, the official Chair (cathedra) of the Successor of Peter resides in this basilica. Upon his election, the Pope comes here to take possession of the Chair, the symbol of the potestas docendi, the power to teach.

Originally dedicated to the Holy Saviour, the name of the basilica became longer over time. In the 10th century, St. John the Baptist was added to the name, and in the 12th century, St. John Evangelist was added. The first symbolizes the beginning of time while the latter symbolizes the end of the time. Hence the basilica is known as the Papal Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour, St. John Baptist and St. John Evangelist, or in short, the Lateran Basilica.

We will come back to the basilica on Passion Sunday, Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday.

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