Day 4
Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Background: Façade of the Lateran Basilica
Foreground: Statue commemorating the dream of Pope Innocent III
in which  St. Francis of Assisi was holding up the collapsing Church.
(It was Pope Innocent who later approved the Franciscan Rule.)

On this Solemnity of St. John the Baptist, we very fittingly visited the Lateran Archbasilica, known more commonly as St. John Lateran.  The Basilica is dedicated to Christ our Savior and, in later centuries, was also placed under the patronage of Ss. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist.  The Lateran is the Holy Father's Cathedral and, as such, is the Mother Church of all Catholic Churches throughout the world.  The site of the Basilica was given to the Church by the Emperor Constantine after his Edict of Milan which made Christianity legal in the Roman Empire.

A great photo opportunity for our Marian Sisters of the Diocese of Lincoln whose community follows the Franciscan Rule!
Façade of
Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

Constantine's Mother, Saint Helena, was instrumental in creating another very significant church a few blocks away from St. John Lateran.  St. Helena's Church is called Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (The Holy Cross in Jerusalem).  The Church is built in what was once Saint Helena's palace.  As mother of the Emperor, she traveled to the Holy Land,searched for the relics of the Passion of our Lord, and brought them back to Rome.  Housed at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme are a large relic of the true cross, one of the nails from the crucifixion, two thorns from the crown of thorns, the plaque hung above Christ on the cross, and the finger of St. Thomas the Apostle (doubting Thomas who was invited by Christ to place his hand in His pierced side).  

The largest of the relics which St. Helena brought to Rome are the Scala Santa or Holy Stairs.  These are stairs from the praetorium which Christ ascended at His trial, and are located in a separate building near St. John Lateran.  The faithful now climb these stairs on their knees in a spirit of penance and prayer; a number of the Sisters in our group chose to do this today.

A gaze at the Victor Emmanuel Monument in Piazza Venezia 

Another beautiful day in our Roman Pilgrimage!


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