Saturday, November 9, 2013
Feast of the Dedication of the Archbasilica of our Savior (John Lateran)

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Double of the II Class (1955 Calendar): November 9

Today Holy Mother Church triumphantly celebrates the Dedication of the Archbasilica of Our Savior Jesus Christ, commonly referred to as the Basilica of St. John Lateran.   Its association with the name of Lateran is due to the fact that the Church was in ancient times occupied by the palace of the Laterani family.
The palace of the Laterani, on the Coelian Hill, belonged then to Constantine's wife Fausta. After his conversion the Emperor gave it to the Pope as his private residence and founded in it the church of the Lateran which became the mother and mistress of all the churches of Rome and the world. It was dedicated to Christ our Saviour by Pope St. Silvester on November 9, 324. In the twelfth century it was given as its second title St. John the Baptist whose name was also that of the ancient baptistery connected with the church; hence the present name of the basilica, St. John Lateran. The first basilica having been destroyed, it was rebuilt in the tenth century by Sergius III and consecrated by Benedict XIII in 1726.

Source: Passionist Nuns

Dom Guernager writes in the Liturgical Year:

Today is the birthday of the mother and mistress of churches, called “of our Saviour, Aula Dei (God's palace), the golden Basilica;” it is a new Sinai,[3] whence the apostolic oracles and so many Councils have made known to the world the law of salvation. No wonder this feast is celebrated by the whole world.

Although the Popes for centuries have ceased to dwell in the Lateran palace, the Basilica still holds the first rank. It is as true now, as it was in the time of St. Peter Damian, to say that “as our Saviour is the Head of the elect, so the church which bears his name is the head of all churches; those of St. Peter and St. Paul, on its right and left, are the two arms with which this sovereign and universal church embraces the whole earth, saving all those who desire salvation, cherishing and protecting them in its maternal bosom.” And St. Peter Damian applied conjointly to our Saviour and his Basilica the words of the prophet Zacharias; Behold a Alan, the Orient is his name: and under him shall he spring up, and shall build a temple to the Lord. Yea, he shall build a temple to the Lord: and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit, and rule upon his throne: and he shall be a priest upon his throne.

It is still at the Lateran Basilica that the Roman Pontiffs take official possession of their See. There each year, in the name of the Pope as Bishop of Rome, the episcopal functions are performed, viz: the blessing of the Holy Oils on Maundy Thursday, and on Holy Saturday the blessing of the Font, solemn Baptism and Confirmation, and the general Ordination. Could the great poet of the age of triumph, Prudentius, return to life in these our days, he might still say: “The Roman people hasten in eager crowds to the Lateran, whence they return marked with the sacred sign, with the royal chrism. And are we yet to doubt that Rome is consecrated " to thee, O Christ!”

The Proper of the Mass for today's Mass of the Dedication of St. John Lateran is called the Missa Terribilis, taken from the beginning Introit from Genesis 28: 17, "Terribilis est locus iste..." which is translated as "Terrible is this place: it is the house of God, and the gate of Heaven; and it shall be called the court of God."

The meaning of the word "Terrible" is derived from the Latin word terrere meaning "awesome" or "awestruck," signifying the amazement one should feel in the presence of Almighty God, the Creator and Ruler of the Universe. However, far from seeming awestruck, modern man often forsakes reverence and downplays the grandeur of God who dwells among us in the tabernacle. 

To read the proper prayers for today's Mass in PDF please click here:  Page 1 & Page 2. In honor of today's triumphant celebration, I encourage you to read the beautiful ceremony and prayers for the Dedication of a Church.


O God, by Your care we come safely each year to commemorate with these sacred rites the dedication of Your holy Temple. Graciously hear the prayers of Your people and grant that all who implore Your blessings in this church may joyfully receive the favors they ask. Through Our Lord . . .

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