Catholic Digest’s Shrines of Italy and Shroud of Turin pilgrimage brings you to the most ancient cathedral in Italy—the Basilica of St. John Lateran. It is the oldest of the four patriarchal basilicas of Rome, the site once occupied by the Laterani family palace. There is evidence that Emperor Constantine gave the palace to the Church in about 311 AD, and the first basilica was built in 314 AD. Sometimes it is known as Domus Faustae, for Constantine’s wife, Fausta. There are some remains of the original buildings; these were discovered during an excavation in 1880 when Pope Leo XIII was enlarging the apse. Over the years, the church has undergone many reconstructions and refurbishments, but some historic remains, such as the floor and ceiling, are still recognizable.
The cathedral became the center of Catholic life in Rome beginning when Constantine gave it to the Church. For about 1,000 years, it was the residence of the popes. In 1309 the living quarters of the popes moved to Avignon. There are six papal tombs inside St. John Lateran, including remains of Silvester II, Sergius IV, Alexander III, Innocent III, Clement XII, and Leo XIII. After Leo XIII’s death, the popes were buried in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The apse of the cathedral comes with a legend: It is said that the bust of Jesus appeared on the apse the day that the basilica was dedicated. People thought it to be painted by angels. The bust dates back to at least the fifth century and may be the oldest representation of Christ. As for the rest of the mosaic on the apse, it was the work of Jacopi Torriti and Jacopo da Camerino in the 13th century.
Separate from the basilica is another building that represents an important moment in Catholic history—the first baptistery in Rome, built by Constantine I in 315 AD. This octagon-shaped building served as a model for other buildings of its kind.
One of the most beautiful aspects of the cathedral is the cloister, constructed between 1222 and 1230. The cloister has spiral columns in the Cosmatesque style, which can be simply explained as geometric stonework. A stunning space like this provides a unique paradise inside the cathedral.
St. John Lateran’s Basilica is only one of the historical and inspirational sights you will see on the pilgrimage to Italy. Rome is the final city you will visit, and the experience there includes a tour of the basilica and also an audience with Pope Francis.
Beyond St. John Lateran, our “Shroud of Turin and Great Cathedrals of Italy” tour will bring you to the inspiring cities of Rome, Orvieto, Assisi, Siena, Pisa, Florence, Turin, Padua, and Venice. The tour package includes round-trip airfare, accommodations in four-star, first-class hotels for 10 nights, an English speaking guide, and more.
We welcome you to join us for a journey that begins with a visit to the Shroud of Turin, continues to the mystical canals of Venice, and brings you to an audience with Pope Francis in Rome. Experience the rich religious and cultural history of Italy without the hassle of planning the trip yourself—from takeoff to landing back home, all you have to do is enjoy.
Shroud of Turin and Great Cathedrals of Italy
June 15–26, 2015
Prices start at $4,495
For more information, contact Susan Prendergast at 800-842-4842 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To sign up for Catholic Digest’s The Shroud of Turin and Shrines of Italy Tour contact Susan Prendergast at 800-842-4842 or email@example.com.