Continuing with my first day of exploring Rome:
My First stop was the Arcibasilica del Santissimo Salvatore e dei Santi Giovanni Battista ed Evangelista in Laterano. The Papal Archbasilica of St John Lateran, the Cathedral–remember cathedra means SEAT–of the Diocese of Rome. This is the oldest and highest ranking of the four major papal basilicas–St Peter’s (in the Vatican), St Paul Outside the Walls, and Santa Maria Maggiore are the other three.
Interesting facts: Even though this is the seat of the Bishop of Rome–the Pope–it lies outside of Vatican City by about 2.5 miles. The word “Lateran” comes from the name of the family who owned the property on this site. The Lateran Palace used to be the primary residence of the Pope.
The Latin writing (abbreviated) along the façade says: Clemens XII Pont Max Anno V Christo Salvatori In Hon SS Ioan Bapt et Evang, which means: “Pope Clement XII, in the fifth year [of his Pontificate, dedicated this building] to Christ the Savior, in honor of Saints John the Baptist and [John] the Evangelist”.
I don’t know what it is with Europe having loud concerts outside of churches–we encountered this in Brussels, too. It seems there was going to be some sort of concert outside of the cathedral that night.
This was the first of many plenary indulgences I picked up on my travels, and I was glad to have them. I tell you, if my dad isn’t in Heaven yet, I don’t know what…
The inside of St John Lateran is just stunning. One time, when David and I visited Rome, we walked into St JOhn Lateran, and there were a bunch of priests singing the Salve Regina. It was heavenly.
This time, it was mostly tourists.
I love the statues of the Disciples along the aisles. They are so ALIVE! (Click the right and left arrows to see the other images)
St John the Evangelist
St James the Greater
St James the Lesser
I loved seeing things here that reminded me of previous trips to Rome.
This image, I had taken a black and white photo of when David and I came here back in… whoo! 2005. Here is my pic form back then:
This was taken using my FILM Canon Rebel.
This was taken with my Canon5D:
I smiled when I saw it. We used this image in one of the early iterations of our website.
Here are some other of my favorite images from this Archbasilica, including:
- The 14th century wooden ciborium holds pieces of a wooden altar once used by St Peter. Supposedly, the two bust reliquaries hold parts of the skulls of Saints Peter and Paul, but this website says it holds relics touched to the remains.
- The 4th century apse, which has a mosaic featuring what is believed to be the very first image of Jesus seen in public! According to this awesome website, “This image dates back to the original 4th century Constantinian era, though the rest of the mosaic came much later in the Holy Year of 1300. In it, a gem-studded, glorified cross is centered on a solid gold background, with the four rivers of Paradise flowing from it, quenching the thirst of the deer which represent our souls thirsting for the Lord. The cross is surrounded by the Blessed Virgin, St. John the Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul, and Sts. John the Evangelist and Andrew. Because both the pope (Nicholas IV) and the artist who created it (Jacopo Torriti) were Franciscans, they also included the two greatest saints of their order, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony of Padua.”
- A reliquary containing pieces of the table Jesus used at the Last Supper, brought from the Holy Land by St Helen–this one is above the tabernacle, behind the golden bas relief of the Last Supper.
Can you believe that?! I find it amazing.
I also love the images of St David and his harp and –who has the pipes? It looks like Neptune! I don’t know who it is.
I think I walked around the interior of this church five or six times, just taking it all in. (Click on the images below to make the larger)
Across the street is a building that houses a private chapel once used by the popes who lived at the Lateran palace. It is called the Sancta Sanctorum because there are so many sacred relics there, including the Scala Sancta, the stairs believed to have been the ones that Jesus climbed on his way to meet Pontius Pilate.
These stairs were brought from the Holy Land by St Helen, and–over the years–have been covered by wood to protect the marble stairs underneath. This video shows you what the stairs look like now–how much of the stone has been worn away by the knees of pilgrims.
I had a great grace here. God was so good to give it to me on my first day into the city.
I will admit that, many times when I travel, I tend to get super annoyed by other people. (LOL) I know. What an admission! But it’s true. People can be very selfish when they travel–and that includes me. Since I tend to visit sacred sites when I travel, I get very upset at how irreverent people are in these locations. It’s hard to sit by, unfeelingly, when you see people disrespecting God and His house.
When I got to the Scala Sancta–which I have climbed three times in my life, praise God!–I was excited that it was mostly empty. This is what I saw as I began the ascent on my knees (yes, it hurt very much).
I think the guy with the backpack and the woman with the puffy jacket were together, so I got behind them, and followed their lead.
It is specifically stated that you are supposed to climb the stairs on your knees, out of respect. If you can’t do it, there is a staircase to the right that you can ascend on your feet, and then a staircase on the left allows everyone to walk down.In between the staircases are statues of Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss and of Pontius Pilate, exclaiming, “Ecce Homo!”
It’s all a very sad scene.
As I began my ascent, I brought all of my friends and their intentions with me. I thought about my dad–wherever he is! My mom and her future. My sisters, and my and David’s own healing. As I climbed, slowly, meditatingly… a crowd of foreign tourists began to ascend the stairs behind us all.
I kept my slow pace behind the couple, but as the nattering crowd neared, they pressed in.
I felt them pressing closely on me, stepping on my feet behind me. Pushing me with their bags.
They were actually passing people on the stairs! It was like it was a race! (To be fair, they probably had little time. These tour groups can be brutal with time.)
Women next to me were overtaking me, and I saw they were using their feet. (To be fair, they seemed unable to climb the stairs at such a fast pace on their knees, so they were helping themselves with their feet. It’s hard to explain. Suffice it to say, they weren’t following the rules (a pet peeve of mine)).
My head almost exploded.
I cried out, “On your knees!”
It made no difference.
I kept my slow pace behind the couple, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely distracted.
This whirlwind surrounded me now, and suddenly, in the midst of the cacophony and lawlessness, I started to think about how God felt about all of this.
Was God really hurt by their walking up on their feet?
Probably not. He saw their hearts, and He knew why they did what they did. I, on the other hand, did not.
Did God really need me to climb these stairs on my knees?
Probably not. He doesn’t need my acts of devotion. And He most especially doesn’t need them when He knew very well that my heart was full of anger. He knew that as I climbed those stairs out of love for Him, I was hating those He loved.
What God really cared about was that I was angry… there in the midst of this holy place, I had hatred in my heart, and I knew that God was not happy about it.
Suddenly, the crowd and the anger were gone.
I was able to finish my climb in pain and peace, and I offered it all up, begging forgiveness for not loving. For not forgiving.
For not being as selfless as He was when He first climbed those very stairs.
After this experience, I didn’t feel any (and I mean ANY) anger or frustration with tourists or groups while I was in Italy. Maybe this is gone. Maybe this is another miraculous healing. Wow, I’d love that.
But it’s a good reminder for us always.
God doesn’t want or need our sacrifices.
He wants our love.
The Scala Sancta are under the watchful eye of the wonderful Passionist Order, so there are image of some of their saints nearby, and their gift shop has some fun Passionist info.
On my way out, I spotted this beautiful statue of St Francis and some of his companions
As I took this shot, I thought,
“St Francis, rebuild His Church.”
Here are some more videos about the Scala Sancta.