Christians first met in homes to hear Jesus’ teachings and to celebrate the Eucharist. When the Christians were no longer persecuted for their faith, they built beautiful churches. Sometime before the fourth century, a palace owned by a noble Roman family named Laterani had been built. It became the property of the Emperor Constantine. Constantine had recognized Christianity as the religion of the empire, and he donated to the Church the palace and other buildings on the site. This became Rome’s oldest church. It was given the title Basilica of the Savior, but later was dedicated to John the Baptist and called St. John Lateran.
St. John Lateran was the home of the popes—the center of the Catholic world for many years. Twenty-eight popes are buried there. Although our pope now lives at the Vatican and presides at St. Peter’s basilica, St. John Lateran is considered his cathedral as the bishop of Rome. The dedication of this basilica is a happy occasion for the Church because it reminds us of our beginnings, our unity. It stands as a monument to God and all that God does through the Church.
Ask the students to report on the major basilicas in Rome: St. John Lateran, St. Peter (Vatican), St. Paul (outside the city walls), and St. Mary Major.
Discuss with the students the importance of contributing to the support of the parish community. Invite the pastor, associate, or parish council chairperson to explain how the Sunday collection is used.
Encourage the students to discover more about their own parish church and cathedral. Recommend that they interview older members of the parish about the history of the parish church.
Excerpted from Christ Our Life, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio
Image credit: The Basilica of St John Lateran by Alessandro Galilei, 1735. Public Domain via Wikimedia.