Each diocese has its principal church, where the bishop of the diocese presides. St. John Lateran is the Pope’s church in the same way that St. Peter Cathedral in Erie is Bishop Trautman’s church. Dedicated in 324 in Rome, the emerging center of Christianity, St. John Lateran is the cathedral of cathedrals.
The baptistry in the Lateran basilica bears an early 5th-Century inscription, which reminded those who went under its waters for the first time and ever after what holy living means:
Here is born in Spirit-soaked fertility a brood destined for another City, begotten by God’s blowing and borne upon this torrent by the Church, their virgin mother.
Reborn in these depths they reach for heaven’s realm, the born-but-once unknown by felicity.
This spring is life that floods the world, the wounds of Christ its awesome source.
Sinner sink beneath this sacred surf that swallows age and spits up youth.
Sinner here scour sin away down to innocence, for they know no enmity who are by one font, one Spirit, one faith made one.
Sinner shudder not at sin’s kind and number,for those borne here are holy.3
- Its official name is Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Sts. John the Baptist and the Evangelist at the Lateran.
- Tertullian, 2nd-to-3rd-Century church author, in his Apology, ch. 18.
- Perhaps by Pope St. Leo the Great (+461).