Week 31, Friday. Feast of the Dedication of Saint John Lateran Basilica, Rome

On this day in 324, lands and buildings that originally belonged to the Roman Laterani family were formally dedicated as the Cathedral Church of Rome by Pope Sylvester I. The during the reign of Emperor Nero, the Laterani family lost the property to the Emperor when a family member was accused of some unknown impropriety against Nero. From the the time of Nero to the early years of the fourth century, the ‘ownership history’ is somewhat sketchy as the property eventually passes to Constantine's wife, Fausta. What is clear is that with the Edict of Toleration, the Roman Empire's relationship with the Church changed dramatically. Not only were bishops appointed civil magistrates by the emperor, Constantine also began an aggressive 'renovation' project taking existing Roman buildings and permitting the bishops to use them for places of worship and ecclesiastical gatherings/meetings. New buildings were also constructed during this time and dedicated as Churches to signal the Church’s clear visible presence in the Empire. Robin Jensen notes that this ‘church building campaign’ “symbolized the beginning of Christianity’s transition from a minority community adapting what it had available and expressing itself in familiar terms, to a powerful, wealthy and dominant segment of the population, now able to determine the forms and styles by which it expressed its own cultural identity. The imposing scale and potential grandeur of the basilica design well suited the gradually more elaborate liturgy, even as it reflected the changed social and political status of the church and became a definitive and monumental symbol of the church’s new self-understanding and cultural integration (Christianity: Origins to Constantine, page 585).”

“I saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2)

O God,
Who from living and chosen stones
prepare an eternal dwelling for Your majesty,
increase in your Church
the spirit of grace you have bestowed,
so that by new growth your faithful people
may build up the heavenly Jerusalem.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High! (Psalm 46, 5).

“Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, "Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace." His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me. At this the Jews answered and said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking about the temple of his Body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.” (John 2:13-22).

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