Major Basilicas Of Rome: Introduction

Posted 18.10.2013 by Leigh

Major Basilicas Of Rome: St. Peter's Basilica (Vatican), Archbasilica Of St. John Lateran, Basilica Of Saint Mary Major And Basilica Of Saint Paul Outside The Walls.

Rome is not only world famous for being the birthplace of Ancient Rome, but of course, along with the Vatican, for also being home to the Catholic Church and the Pope. Within the Italian capital you will find many churches, but the most famous and largest are the three splendid Major Basilicas which are located across the Eternal City. Whereas Saint Peter's Basilica, probably the most famous of all basilicas, lies within the walls of the Vatican. Below is a short introduction to these four must-see sights in Rome.

Papal Basilica of St. Peter: Official Website (Italian only) / Location: 41°54'8"N 12°27'12"E
Saint Peter's is the only Major Basilica that is not located in Rome, but within the small sovereign city state of the Vatican. The basilica is said to be founded on the burial site of one of the twelve apostles, namely Saint Peter. It was consecrated in 1626 and is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites, although it is not actually a cathedral, because the Pope's seat as a bishop (Bishop of Rome) is at the Archbasilica Of St. John Lateran. It is, however, a place of pilgrimage for Catholics and where the Pope presides over a number of services throughout the year, which usually draw audiences of between 15,000 to over 80,000 people.

Archbasilica Of St. John Lateran: Official Website (Italian only) / Location: 41°53'9.26"N 12°30'22.16"E
Archbasilica Of St. John Lateran is so named as it is the cathedral church of the Diocese of the City of Rome; the official seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope. Consecrated in 324 A.D., it is both the oldest and highest ranking basilica of the Major Basilicas, and for that reason it holds the title of Archbasilica. Although the basilica is located outside the Vatican, but within the city of Rome, it enjoys extraterritorial status and is viewed as one of the properties of the Holy See thanks to the signing of the Lateran treaty in 1929, as do several other building in the city.

Basilica Of Saint Mary Major: Official Website / Location: 41°53'51"N 12°29'55"E
Basilica Of Saint Mary Major lies on Piazza del Esquilino very close to Termini Train Station, making it just a short walk from Roma Termini Suites. Dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 'Major' in its name highlights the fact that it the largest of the 25 Catholic Marian churches. Again, it has extraterritorial status (according to the 1929 Lateran Treaty) and is guarded and patrolled by Vatican police rather than Italian police. The Pope often presides over the annual Feast of the Assumption of Mary, which is celebrated on 15 August each year at the basilica.

Basilica Of Saint Paul Outside The Walls: Official Website / Location: 41°51'31"N 12°28'38"E
Basilica Of Saint Paul Outside The Walls was consecrated in the fourth century and lies in the southern Roman district of San Paolo, just a stone's throw from the River Tiber. The basilica is named 'Outside The Walls' as it is located outside the ancient Aurelian Walls. The basilica was originally founded by Emperor Constantine I and built over the thought to be burial place of Apostle Saint Paul. It was damaged in the 9th century during the Saracen invasions. Exhibits include the Tomb of Saint Paul, Chapel of Relics, the Art Gallery and the Lapidary Collection.

Dress Code
Please do not forget that there is a strict dress code within the churches and many other places of religious significance. Shoulders and knees must be covered when entering any of these buildings, otherwise you will be turned away.

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