The meaning of the celebration
+ Today the Universal Church celebrates the anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica of Saint John “on the Lateran,” the cathedral church of Rome.
+ Originally the palace of the Laterani Family, the building was given to emperor Constantine who, in turn, gave the palace to the bishop of Rome. Constantine also oversaw the construction of a basilica dedicated to “Our Savior” and baptistry. Although the exact date is unknown, scholars think it happened sometimes during the reign of Pope Saint Meltiades (311-314). Over the centuries, the cathedral church was also dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist.
+ The present archbasilica is the result of several building and restoration campaigns that expanded the original church.
+ According to an inscription placed on the church by Pope Clement XII, this church is “Mother and Head of all the churches of the City [of Rome] and the world.” The annual commemoration of its consecration was included in the missal approved by Pope Saint Pius V in 1570 and has been celebrated throughout the Church since that time.
+ This feast reminds us that each of us is united with the Church of Rome by special bonds of fidelity and obedience. The mother-church of Rome is also our mother and our spiritual home.
For prayer and reflection
“My fellow Christians, do we wish to celebrate joyfully the birth of this temple? Then let us not destroy the living temples of God in ourselves by works of evil. I shall speak clearly, so that all can understand. Whenever we come to church, we must prepare our hearts to be as beautiful as we expect this church to be. Do you wish to find this basilica immaculately clean? Then do not soil your soul with the filth of sins. Do you wish this basilica to be full of light? God too wishes that your soul be not in darkness, but that the light of good works shine in us, so that he who dwells in the heavens will be glorified. Just as you enter this church building, so God wishes to enter into your soul, for he promised: I shall live in them, and I shall walk the corridors of their hearts.”—Saint Caesarius of Arles
On November 9, we also remember Saint Pabo. Known as “Pabo Post Prydain,” he was a local king in a region that now includes the Scottish Lowlands and Northern Britain. After defending his people in military campaigns against the Scots and the Picts, he laid aside his royal status and became a hermit in Anglesey and is said to have founded the church that is now known as “St. Pabo’s” in Llanabo, Wales. Saint Pabo died sometime before the year 500.
who from living and chosen stones
prepare an eternal dwelling for your majesty,
increase in your Church the spirit of grace you have bestowed,
so that by new growth your faithful people
may build up the heavenly Jerusalem.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.