Lateran and Laterano are the shared names of several architectural projects throughout
Rome. The properties were once owned by the Lateranus family of the former Roman Empire. The Laterani lost their properties to Emperor Constantine who in turn gave it to the Catholic Church.
The most famous Lateran buildings are the
Lateran Palace, once called the Palace of the Popes, and the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedralof Rome, which although part of Italy is a property of the Holy Seethat has extra-territorial privileges as a result of the 1929 Lateran Treaty. As the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope, St. John Lateran holds the Papal " cathedra" in its apse. The Lateran is Christendom's earliest basilica, and is located on one of the 7 hills of Rome, the Caelian.
The inscription at the base of the columns on either side of the central entrance door reads: SACROS LATERAN ECCLES OMNIUM URBIS ET ORBIS ECCLESIARUM MATER ET CAPUT. It translates to "Sacred Lateran Church Mother and Head of All Churches of the City and the World".
The doors to the house of the ancient Roman Senate, the
Curia Hostilia, are the main entrance doors to the Basilica de San Giovanni in Laterano. These doors are very impressive bronze doors, decorated with stars and acorns. Most of the original churches in Rome contain Roman artifacts. Some of the churches also are built over original churches. These churches preserve many of the vestiges of the old Roman Empire. Constantine Igave San Giovanni to the Pope. Attached to the Lateran is a baptistry, one of the oldest in Christendom. The baptistry contains the story of Constantine's victory at the Milvian Bridgein AD 312.
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13505a.htm Scala Sancta (Holy Stairs) - Article from the Catholic Encyclopedia]
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09014a.htm Christian Museum of Lateran - Article from the Catholic Encyclopedia]
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