Most Famous Ancient Roman Catholic Basilicas Of Rome

The interiors of the ​Papal Archbasilica of Saint John in Lateran.
The interiors of the ​Papal Archbasilica of Saint John in Lateran.

Basilica is an ancient Roman architecture that was utilized in the construction of law courts and meeting places for the public. The word basilica was adopted into the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval ages to refer to an important church that has been granted the permission by the pope to be called a basilica. The religious privileges that make a church a basilica include the burial place of a saint or martyr and have relics of a saint or that was built by saints. Major basilica also known as the Papal Basilica is a title given to the four highest ranking Roman Catholic churches that are located within the diocese of Rome. Only St. Peter’s Basilica is within Vatican City and therefore falls within the jurisdiction and territory of the Holy Sea, and the other three are within the territory of Italy. The Archbasilica of St. John in Lateran is the site of the Papal Cathedra and seat of the pope. It is also the the oldest and the first in rank as the major basilicas.

5. Description and History -

Basilicas are large church buildings that are erected in the architectural design of palatial basilicas but with special privileges given to it by the pope. In ancient Rome, basilicas served as buildings for the rulers, courts, and royalty. The basilicas had a rectangular shape with arches and wide doors and could accommodate thousands of people at same time. The churches in Rome adopted the architectural designs of basilicas adding a cross detail to the design. Some basilicas however do not have basilica architecture and are so called for their religious significance.

4. Basilica of Saint Mary Major -

The basilica is the largest in Rome and has been dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary built in 431AD by Pope Sixtus III after the Council of Ephesus which named the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God replacing the Sicinini basilica. The basilica was damaged by an earthquake in the 14th century but has been restored through a series of renovations and decorations throughout the centuries. The basilica was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1980.

3. Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican -

The basilica is a Papal basilica located in Vatican City and burial place for Saint Peter, Jesus’s disciple. The basilica replaced the 4th century AD Old St. Peter’s in the 16th-17th centuries. The basilica is an important liturgical place that holds a precious religious and historical significance. The basilica is a major tourist attraction being visited by pilgrims from all over the world. The basilica was listed by UNESCO as a cultural World Heritage Site in 1984.

2. Papal Archbasilica of Saint John in Lateran -

The Lateran basilica is the oldest papal major basilica in Rome that was built as a dedication to John the Baptist and John the Evangelist and was consecrated in 324AD. The basilica is one of the Major basilicas which have served as residences for the pope. The basilica was destroyed by several fires in the 14th century prompting repairs which led to an alteration in the original structure of the basilica. The basilica was a critical protection area for the pope and some refugees in WWII. The Basilica was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

1. Papal Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls -

The basilica is located in Italy but is under the full authority of the Holy See. The basilica was founded by Constantine I and is believed to have been built above the grave of Apostle Paul and built by Theodosius I in 386. The basilica was modified in consecutive centuries and was damaged in the 9th century. The basilica was reconstructed in the 1840s and consecrated 1855. The basilica retained its original structure and is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts a large number of pilgrims yearly.


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