“Mother and head of all the churches on earth”

Lateran cropped

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – Sunday, November 9, 2014

Today we celebrate the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome. It is known as “Mother and head of all churches on earth” because it was the original residence of the Pope. There is a formidable and significant stone inscription on the façade of the Basilica that reads: Sacrosancta Lateranensis ecclesia omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput, “Most Holy Lateran Church, of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head.”

Steeped in historical significance

The basilica was built by the Emperor Constantine at the beginning of the fourth century AD and was dedicated on November 9, 324, by Pope Sylvester I. The anniversary of the dedication of this church has been observed since the 12th century. An added significance to this feast is the fact that the first Holy Year was proclaimed from this church in the year 1300.

The magnificent church was first called the Basilica of the Saviour but later was also dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, and so it acquired the name of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. When the papacy was transferred to Avignon for about a century, the condition of the Lateran deteriorated so greatly that when the Pope returned to Rome he lived in two other locations before finally settling adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica, where he lives now.

In the course of its history, St. John Lateran suffered just about as many disasters and revivals as did the papacy it hosted. Sacked by Alaric in 408 and Genseric in 455, it was rebuilt by Pope Leo the Great (440-461), and centuries later by Pope Hadrian I (772-795). The basilica was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake in 896, and was again restored by Pope Sergius III (904-911). Later the church was heavily damaged by fires in 1308 and 1360. When the Popes returned from their sojourn in Avignon, France (1304-1377), they found their basilica and palace in such disrepair that they decided to transfer to the Vatican Basilica (also built by Constantine, it had until then served primarily as a pilgrimage church).

Several important relics are kept within the Lateran Basilica. The wooden altar on which St. Peter celebrated Mass while in Rome is believed to be inside the main altar. The heads of Saints Peter and Paul were once believed to be inside busts above the main altar. Part of the table on which the Last Supper was celebrated is said to be behind a bronze depiction of the Last Supper. At one time the basilica also contained the Holy Stairs on which Jesus is said to have walked during his trial in the house of Pontius Pilate. The stairs are marble and are now covered with wood to protect them. They are currently located in the former Lateran Palace. Pilgrims ascend them on their knees, contemplating Jesus’ Passion. As they ascend, drops of blood may be seen on the marble stairs beneath protective glass. The stairs were brought to Rome by Constantine’s mother Saint Helena.

Many important historic events have also taken place in St. John Lateran, including five Ecumenical Councils and many diocesan synods. In 1929 the Lateran Pacts, which established the territory and status of the State of Vatican City, were signed here between the Holy See and the Government of Italy.

A feast of the People of God

There are two dimensions to today’s feast: it is the celebration of a building that is the mother church of Christendom. We focus our minds and hearts on the unity and love of the whole Church that finds expression in our fidelity to the one who walks in Peter’s shoes: the Pope.

It is also the feast of the People of God who form the Church. The Second Vatican Council helps us to focus our attention on the mystery of the Church – the sign of unity and the instrument of Christ’s peace on earth.

The Cleansing of the Temple

The Gospel of John’s account of Jesus cleansing the Temple seems at first to be a bit out of place for the feast of the dedication of the Mother Church of Rome. John’s account of the cleansing of the Temple (2:13-22) stands in sharp contrast to the other Gospel accounts of this powerful story (Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48). In the Synoptic Gospels, this same scene takes place at the end of the “Palm Sunday Procession” into the holy city. With the people shouting out in triumph, he entered into the Temple area. But this time, not to do homage but to challenge the Temple and its leaders. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and upset the stalls of those selling birds and animals for sacrifice. It was an electrifying moment. He quoted the Scriptures: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations; but you have made it a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46; Isaiah 56:6-7; Jeremiah 7:11).

John uses this incident to give meaning to Jesus’ entire ministry and he is alone among the evangelists in linking the cleansing of the Temple of Jerusalem with the prediction of its destruction. This destruction is symbolic of the end of the Old Covenant and its forms of worship. John says that Jesus was speaking about his own body rather than the temple building (2:21). The new Temple will be his resurrected Body. In the new Covenant, true worship will be “in Christ.”

John’s account of the cleansing of the Temple is quite provocative for many reasons. In the Fourth Gospel, Jesus quotes from Psalm 68:10: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” I have preferred to translate that verse: “I am filled with a burning love for your house…” The Temple was not an emporium (a mall!) but his Father’s house. Like the prophets before him, Jesus tried to awaken the hearts of his people. Their prayer had to come from the heart; their sacrifices, however good and true, were no substitute for justice.

The Messiah would purify Israel’s worship but John goes beyond that to suggest an even more radical change: Israel’s worship will not only be purified, it will also be replaced. The presence of God in Israel shall be replaced by the presence of God in the Temple which is the Body of Jesus. These startling words and actions of Jesus in the Temple took on new meaning for later generations of Christians.

One intriguing aspect of this story is the portrait of an angry Jesus contained in the cleansing scenes. These provocative images can give way to two extremes in our own image of God’s Messiah. Some people wish to transform an otherwise passive Christ pictured above many altars into a whip-cracking revolutionary. Others prefer to excise any human qualities of Jesus and paint a very meek, bland character who would never upset anyone.

The errors of the old extreme, however, do not justify a new extremism. Jesus was not exclusively – not even primarily – concerned with social reform. Jesus was filled with a deep devotion and love for his Father and the things of his Father. His disciples recognized in Jesus a passionate figure – one who was committed to life and to losing it for the sake of truth and fidelity.

Have we given in to these extremes in our own understanding of and relationship with Jesus? Are we passionate about anything in our lives today? Are they the right things? Are we filled with a deep and burning love for the things of God and for his Son, Jesus?

On this feast of the dedication of the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, let us pray for a strengthening of our communion with each other and with all God’s people across the face of the earth. May the Lord purify the sanctuary of our hearts, and build us up as living stones into a holy temple. May we be filled with consuming zeal for the house of the Lord, our Church, and our churches. May our communion with the Church of Rome confirm us as a vibrant, loving, hospitable universal Church, a place of welcome for all who seek God’s face.

[The readings for the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica are: Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; 1 Corinthians 3:9b-11, 16-17; John 2:13-22.]

Habemus Papam, Francescum, Cardinal Bergoglio

Pope Francis I

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, a member of the Society of Jesus, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 17, 1936.

Serving as Archbishop of Buenos Aires before the papal election, Pope Francis I was ordained a Jesuit priest on December 13, 1969. He completed his studies in theology at the Faculty of Theology of San Miguel, Argentina. He would go on to lecture in theology and act as novice master here after his graduation. From 1973-1979 he worked as Jesuit Provincial, and moved to become rector of the Philosophy and Theology Faculty of San Miguel from 1980-1986.

Pope Francis was consecrated as Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires on June 27, 1992, and later appointed Archbishop of Buenos Aires on June 3, 1997. In this capacity he acted as Ordinary for the Eastern-rite in Argentina for those lacking an Ordinary of their own rite.

He was elevated to the College of Cardinals on February 21, 2001, by Blessed John Paul II.  Pope Francis has served as President of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina from November 8, 2005-November 8, 2011. He has been a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for the Clergy, the Pontifical Council for the Family, and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Media Coverage of the Conclave – Perspectives Weekly: Conclave Special

As anyone following newspapers, blogs, newscasts, and social media will know, media coverage of the papal transition can range from the minute to the absurd. What are the issues the media should be talking about? How does a Catholic spokesperson inform an often misinformed society? On today’s episode of “Perspectives Conclave Special”, S+L Producer Kris Dmytrenko will speak with two such people on their recent media appearances, and about whether all this attention can really be a blessing in disguise for the Church.

A new pope: What he can change, and what he can’t – Perspectives Weekly: Conclave Special

What can we expect from a new pope? That’s been the question on everyone’s mind, and has featured prominently in recent media coverage of the upcoming papal election. Kris Dmytrenko and guests Dr. Josephine Lombardi, Fr. Frank Portelli, and Matthew Sanders discuss what the real story is behind the pope, what his office entails, and if he really has the power to effect the types of changes some people are calling for.

S+L Conclave Coverage: Day 1

If you joined us earlier this morning, you saw a spectacular liturgy from inside St. Peter’s Basilica. During this Mass, called the Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass, the cardinals prayed for the election of a new Supreme Pontiff.

Salt + Light will continue its in-depth analysis and reporting throughout the coming days. We will be live streaming each event surrounding the conclave and the announcement of the new pope. Our coverage for Tuesday includes the procession of cardinals into the Sistine Chapel. Moving forward, S+L’s Kris Dmytrenko and Alicia Ambrosio will be live on air as smoke rises from the famous chimney atop the Sistine Chapel.

UPDATE: There was no white smoke on Tuesday, so S+L’s conclave coverage resumes Wednesday at the following times:

1. Conclave Smoke Watch: Morning Vote
5:00-7:30 am ET/2:00-4:30 am PT

2. Conclave Smoke Watch: Afternoon Vote
12:00-2:30 pm ET/9:00-11:30 am PT

Habemum Papam Survival Kit

2005 file photo of cardinals gathered on balcony of St. Peter's Basilica for introduction of new pope

After white smoke streams out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, the moment the world will wait for is when Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran announces the name of the Cardinal who has been elected pope. Below is list of the names of the Cardinal electors, in Latin. The list was painstakingly compiled by Catholic News Service Senior Rome Correspondent, Cindy Wooden.

lbertum
– Albert Malcom Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Aloisium
– Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines.
– Lluis Martinez Sistach of Barcelona, Spain.

Andream
– Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris.

Angelum
– Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.
– Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, Italy.
– Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.
– Angelo Scola of Milan.

Ansgarium
– Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Antonium
– Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
– Antonios Naguib, Alexandria, Egypt.
– Anthony Olubunmi Okogie of Lagos, Nigeria.

Antonium Mariam
– Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid.
– Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

Attilium
– Attilio Nicora, president emeritus of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

Audrys
– Audrys Juozas Backis of Vilnius, Lithuania.

Augustinum
– Agostino Vallini, papal vicar for Rome.

Bachara or Becharam
– Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch.

Basilium Clementem
Baselios Cleemis (Isaac) Thottunkal, major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

Carolum
– Carlos Amigo Vallejo of Seville, Spain.
– Carlo Caffarra, of Bologna, Italy.
– Karl Lehmann of Mainz, Germany.

Casimirum
– Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, Poland.

Christophorum
– Christoph Schonborn of Vienna.

Claudium
– Claudio Hummes, retired prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.

Conradum
– Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Crescentium
– Crescenzio Sepe of Naples, Italy.

Daniel or Danielem
– Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

Dionigium
– Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan.

Dominicum
– Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See.
– Dominik Duka of Prague, Czech Republic.

Donaldum
– Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.

Eduinum
– Edwin F. O’Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

Emmanuelem
– Manuel Monteiro de Castro, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

Ennium
– Ennio Antonelli of Florence, Italy.

Ferdinandum
– Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Franciscum
– Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Interpreting Legislative Texts.
– Francis E. George of Chicago.
– Francesco Monterisi, retired secretary of the Congregation for Bishops.
– Francisco Robles Ortega of Guadalajara, Mexico.
– Franc Rode, retired prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Franciscum Xaverium
– Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Santiago de Chile.

Georgium
– George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, major archbishop of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.
– Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
– George Pell of Sydney.
– Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas, Venezuela.

Gabrielem
– Gabriel Zubeir Wako of Khartoum, Sudan.

Gerardum
– Geraldo Majella Agnelo of Sao Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.

Godefridum
– Godfried Danneels of Mechelen-Brussels.

Gulielmum
– Willem Jacobus Eijk of Utrecht, Netherlands.
– William Joseph Levada, retired prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Iacobum
– James M. Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
– Jaime Ortega Alamino of Havana.

Ioachim
– Joachim Meisner of Cologne, Germany.

Ioannem
– Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland.
– Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
– Juan Cipriani Thorne of Lima, Peru.
– Giovanni Lajolo, retired president of the commission governing Vatican City State.
– John Njue of Nairobi, Kenya.
– John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria.
– Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston.
– Juan Sandoval Iniguez of Guadalajara, Mexico.
– John Tong Hon of Hong Kong.

Ioannem Baptistam
– Giovanni Battista Re, retired prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
– Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Ioannem Cladium
– Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal.

Ioannem Ludovicum
– Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Ioannem Franciscum
– Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Ioannem Patricium
– Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston.

Ioannem Petrum
– Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux, France.

Iosephum
– Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State.
– Giuseppe Betori of Florence, Italy.
– Josip Bozanic of Zagreb, Croatia.
– Jose da Cruz Policarpo, Lisbon, Portugal.
– Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

Iulium
– Julius Darmaatmadja, Jakarta, Indonesia.
– Julio Terrazas Sandoval of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.

Iustinum
– Justin Rigali of Philadelphia.

Isaac
– Baselios Cleemis (Isaac) Thottunkal, major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

Laurentium
– Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo.

Ivanum
– Ivan Dias, retired prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Leonardum
– Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.

Marcum
– Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Maurum
– Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.

Nicolaum
– Nicolas Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Norbertum
– Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City.

Odilonem
– Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paulo.

Osvaldum
– Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India.

Patricium
– Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston.

Paulum
– Paolo Sardi, a former official in the Vatican Secretariat of State.
– Paul Josef Cordes, retired president of Cor Unum.
– Paolo Romeo of Palermo, Italy.

Petrum
– Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary.
– Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Philippum
– Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France.

Polycarpum
– Polycarp Pengo of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Radulfum
– Raul Vela Chiriboga of Quito, Ecuador.

Raimundum
– Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature.
– Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, Brazil.

Rainardum
– Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany.

Rainerium
– Rainer Maria Woelki of Berlin.

Raphaelem
– Raffaele Farina, retired head of the Vatican Secret Archives and the Vatican Library.

Robertum
– Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

Rogerium
– Roger Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles.

Ruben
– Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia.

Sanctum
– Santos Abril Castello, archpriest of Basilica of St. Mary Major.

Severium
– Severino Poletto of Turin, Italy.

Stanislaum
– Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland.
– Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

Telesphorum
– Telesphore Toppo, of Ranchi, India.

Tharsicium
– Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state.

Theodorum
– Theodore-Adrien Sarr of Dakar, Senegal.

Thomam
– Thomas C. Collins of Toronto.

Timotheum
– Timothy M. Dolan of New York.

Valtherum
– Walter Kasper, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Velasium
– Velasio De Paolis, papal delegate overseeing reform of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi.

Vilfridum
– Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban, South Africa.

Villelmum
– Willem Jacobus Eijk of Utrecht, Netherlands.
– William Joseph Levada, retired prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Vincentium
– Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Zenonem
– Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.


Credit: CNS Photo/Nancy Wiechec

Getting to Habemus Papam: Timeline

Over the past few days in our mini-blog series, Getting to Habemus Papam we invited you to remember the conclaves which have elected the Popes of the past two centuries. In fact, we went one step further and thought you might also enjoy using this timeline to browse your way back and forth through the conclaves that made church history.

History of Conclaves in the last 100 years

seat_papal_610x343
During the 20th century, the length of papal Conclaves has never exceeded 5 days. On the basis of this precedent, one would imagine that a Pope will be elected by Saturday, March 16. (However, precedents are being broken regularly in Rome in these recent weeks.)

1903 — 4 days, 7 votes (Pope Pius X elected)
1914 — 3 days, 10 votes (Pope Benedict XV elected)
1922 — 5 days, 14 votes (Pope Pius XI elected)
1939 — 2 days, 3 votes (Pope Pius XII elected)
1958 — 4 days, 11 votes (Pope John XXIII elected)
1963 — 3 days, 6 votes (Pope Paul VI elected)
1978 — 2 days, 4 votes (Pope John Paul I elected)
1978 — 3 days, 8 votes (Pope John Paul II elected)
2005 — 2 days, 4 votes (Pope Benedict XVI elected)

Habemus Papabili – Papal Transitions with John Allen Jr.

Salt and Light producer Sebastian Gomes sits down with John Allen Jr. to discuss possible candidates for the Papacy. John is a multi-awarded journalist who specializes in Vatican affairs.

Conclave to start on March 12

processs

Photo: Cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel at the beginning of the conclave at the Vatican on April 18, 2005.

The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013.  A Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning. In the afternoon the cardinals will enter into the Conclave.

Salt + Light will be broadcasting and live streaming events surrounding the conclave and the announcement of the new pope. Coverage will include the Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass held with the College of Cardinals before they enter the conclave and procession of cardinals into the Sistine Chapel. Finally there will be live coverage each time the cardinals vote to see whether or not white smoke rises from the famous chimney atop the Sistine Chapel.

(CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)