Thursday, 7 September 2017

Rome 365 - San Giovanni in Laterino

The church of San Giovanni in Laterino was created as the cathedral or seat of the bishop of Rome (the pope) It is one of the four major basilicas in the city as well as one of the seven pilgrimage churches.

The 15 gigantic statues that line the roof are a familiar sight on the Roman skyline and are visible as far away as the Janiculum Hill. They represent Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangalist and 12 theologians.

The bronze doors were bought from the Senate House in the Forum - I wonder what scenes they would have witnessed.

The high altar, where only the pope can say mass, contains a wooden table upon which St Peter is said to have celebrated the Eucharist.

The towering Gothic baldacchino contains the relics of the skulls of St Peter and St Paul.

The Altar of the Holy Sacrament contains a cedar table that is said to be the one used by Christ at the Last Supper. The marble and bronze columns were  from the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. The bronze columns in that temple had been recast from the bronze prows of Cleopatra's ships, taken in battle by Emperor Augustus.

The decoration and architecture of the nave was conceived by Borromini. The statues depict the Apostles and Evangalists and the closed doors painted behind represent the gateway to heaven.

The cloisters contain many early Christian fragments from the basilica. A porphyry slab  is believed to be the surface on which Roman soldiers cast lots for Christ's robes.

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