Rome, Italy

St. Giovanni in Laterano, Rome, Italy

St. Giovanni in Laterano is one of Rome's most overlooked great churches. In fact, it is Rome's Cathedral - a status reflected in its size and the sumptuousness of its interiors.

The history of a church here goes back to the 4th Century when the Laterani family fell from grace and the Emperor Constantine built Rome's first Christian Church. The church was twice destroyed by fire and the most recent build was by Borromini in 1646. The porticoed front was added in the 18th Century, either unconsciously or deliberately echoing the facade of St. Peter's in the Vatican.

The adjoining Palace was the Pope's official residence until he moved to Avignon in 1309 and until 1870 all Pope's were crowned in the Church. The Pope being the Bishop of Rome this is a kind of home-from-home for him!

The interior of the church is elaborate and surprisingly massive. The main aisle is flanked by rows of statues of saints which are particularly well executed and dynamic.

In 1929 the Lateran Treaty was signed in the Palace setting up the Vatican City as an independent state.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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