Ladies and gentlemen, this is a special day on the Catholic calendar.
It is a special day, a beautiful day.
But it is also a uniquely tragic day.
This day, priests all over the world will come say Mass and announce that “today is the Feast of St. John Lateran.” Their flock will go through the whole Mass thinking of the great St. John Lateran and all the noble deeds he must have performed to win the heavenly crown. They’ll say their rosary after Mass and end it with a new petition: “St. John Lateran, pray for us!”
I’m just going to stop you right there.
I’ll let Morpheus fill you in.
“Are you trying to uncanonize with St. John Lateran like Vatican II did to St. Christopher?”
Okay, first off, you seriously misunderstand the removal of St. Christopher from the liturgical calendar. Second, no. St. John Lateran was never canonized. He was never even on the liturgical calendar. He was never even a he.
I know, right? But it’s true. St. John Lateran was never a he because St. John Lateran never was. Kinda like the Biting Pear of Salamanca (above) never was. At least, St. John Lateran never was a person. St. John Lateran is a church. More accurately, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is the pope’s cathedral. What’s the cause of all the confusion? Well, it’s the nickname. Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris et Sanctorum Iohannes Baptista et Evangelista in Laterano is the full name of this church. In English, that’s the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and [John] the Evangelist in the Lateran, the Lateran being a reference to the Lateran Palace, an ancient home once inhabited by some of Rome’s elite, but later given by the Emperor Constantine to the popes. It’s worth noting that the palace was originally donated not so the pope could live in luxury, but so that many visiting bishops could be accommodated for a synod in Rome in 313. (Source: Wikipedia.)
With all that in mind, a better nickname would be Sts. John at the Lateran, but that misses out on so much still, doesn’t it?
St. John Lateran is renowned as a beautiful cathedral – sadly one I didn’t get to see on my own trip to Italy. I’ve taken solace, though, in the great cultural efforts being undertaken recently to make these churches more available to us in the digital age. That brings us this amazing page.
Okay, I lied. The page isn’t so amazing. It’s done in typical Vatican web design, which is to say, coding straight out of the mid-90’s. But if you click the links, you’ll find some amazing, high-def, 3D, zoomable imagery, complete with some classic Catholic music. Seriously, go check it out.
“St. John Lateran, pray for us!”
There, fixed it.