Pastor's Desk: Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Posted 8th November 2014 in Pastor's Desk

lateranWelcome everyone. The 9th November is always the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica and when it falls on a Sunday it takes precedence over the Sundays of Ordinary Time. Some of you may ask why are we celebrating a church that is miles away?! We have to remember that for the early Church there were no buildings to gather in because they were afraid of being rounded up and persecuted or put to death by the Roman Empire, so they met in the private houses of believers for the reading of the scriptures and the breaking of bread, the Mass. When Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal in the Roman Empire in 313 he gave the Christians part of his Laterano family palace in Rome to use as a gathering place. This was the Lateran Palace and a simple church was built. The large basilica we know today was built in 1646. This is also where the popes lived till the Middle Ages and the Lateran Basilica is to this day the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Rome, i.e. the Pope’s Cathedral. People often think that St. Peter’s is the Pope’s Cathedral but it is not. The Diocese of Rome is run from the offices at the Lateran Basilica. This basilica is the first and mother church of the churches of the Catholic Church in the city and in the world, hence our reason to celebrate it.

Of course we are not interested in bricks for their own sake. If there are no people of faith to gather there then the building means nothing. Today we are reminded that the most important element of church buildings is the “living stones” that are the people of God. We are about being church. The building merely provides the safe venue for us to gather and celebrate and support one another in the living out of that faith.

Like the bricks of the basilica, we need to lean on each other for support and then we are strong and solid, the more so because Christ is the foundation stone.
Fr. Eoin

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