Tuesday, July 24, 2007

St John Lateran

Heading east on the metro line, we came to the famous basilica of St. John Lateran. This is the oldest of the four major basilicas of Rome, and ranks higher than even St. Peter's. The basilica was originally constructed in the 4th century, but was renovated and rededicated in the 12th century. It has a magnificent facade of white marble, and there is an obelisk in the piazza that is the largest in the world.

Here is a shot of the massive pillars on the facade, with carved emblems of the papacy including the tiara and keys.

The interior of the church is massive, and dominated by statues of the 12 apostles along the nave.

This is an example of the statues, this one being St. Andrew the Apostle, sculpted by Camillo Rusconi.

And here's St. Batholomew, sculpted by Pierre Le Gros the Younger. I thought it was very interesting because it shows him holding his skin. (He was martyred by being flayed alive.)

One of the relics in the Lateran is the table of the Last Supper, brought back from Jerusalem. You can see it in the gold reliquary up on the wall. The bronze columns are said to be made of the bronze of the prows of Cleopatra's ships, melted down by Augustus.

Here's the magnificent tabernacle, perhaps my favorite in the world.

In the right transept is the tomb of Leo XIII.

Here's a shot of the coffered ceiling.

Above the high altar, are two reliquaries containing the heads of Sts. Peter and Paul.

1 comment:

Aggie said...

St. John Lateran, is gorgeous, you picked out some great highlights and tidbits of info to share. Like the comment about Cleopatra's ship and St. Bart holding his own skin, I don't think I would have picked up on that. Your comment that "This is the oldest of the four major basilicas of Rome, and ranks higher than even St. Peter's". Do you mean higher than St. Peters in age or height? How do you know so much about these churches, do you study them before going, (I can't say I remember seeing signs in European churches having tourist signs explaining all the neat things that you bring to our attenttion) or I know, knowing you "untalkative DePiante's" probably talk to the gate keepers everywhere to get the real scoop.