Audio Guide for the Basilica of St. John Lateran

The Square of St. John Lateran

Located near Mount Celio, the Archbasilica of the Most Sacred Saviour and the Saints John the Baptist and Evangelist, more commonly known as St. John Lateran, is the oldest church in the western world. It was a Papal residence until the 14th century and is now the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome. It was built during the pontificate of Pope Miltiades on a property belonging to the Lateran family, donated to the Pope by Constantine as a sign of his gratitude to Christ after the victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on 28 October 312. Subsequently with the Edict of Milan, which established religious tolerance for Christianity within the Roman Empire, Constantine ended the persecution of Christians and the Lateran Basilica became the shining symbol of the newly born Church. One thousand years later, in 1300, the first Jubilee in history was proclaimed here and later, during the Jubilee of 1423, Pope Martin V opened the Holy Door for the first time, a ceremony which was later also extended to other Roman Basilicas. Visit St. John Lateran and go back to the roots of Christianity. For a moment of silence and prayer, you can also access the Cloister, "a corner of medieval grace" considered one of the most important masterpieces of the thirteenth century.

Nearby: The Holy Stairs and Sancta Sanctorum

Located on the eastern side of the Square, the Holy Stairs are part of what remains of the old Lateran Palace. Identified by tradition with the stairs of the Praetorium of Pilate on which Jesus is said to have walked for questioning before the crucifixion, it was installed in 1586, by order of Pope Sixtus V, to provide access to the papal chapel, the Sancta Sanctorum, so called because of the many relics it houses.