On November 9 each year, the universal Church celebrates the Feast of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome. This basilica, not Saint Peter’s Basilica, is actually the cathedral of the Pope. As in all cathedrals, the chair of the bishop or cathedra resides in it. It is a symbol of the teaching authority of the bishop. Since the Pope, or Bishop of Rome is the bishop of the universal church, Saint John Lateran is the mother church of all churches in the world. On the front wall there is a plaque which reads: Sacros Lateran Eccles omnium Urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput which means, "Most Holy Lateran Church, mother and head of all the churches in the city and the world.”
The Lateran palace was gifted to the Bishop of Rome sometime around the year 313. It was renovated, expanded, and then dedicated a cathedral to Christ the Savior in the year 324. It has been reconstructed a few times throughout its history and re-dedicated. In the tenth century Pope Sergius III dedicated the basilica to Saint John the Baptist in honor of the newly constructed baptistery. Pope Lucius II dedicated it to Saint John the Evangelist in the twelfth century. Today, Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist are secondary co-patrons with Christ the Savior being the primary patron. The last major reconstruction, the magnificent façade, was completed in 1735 by Pope Clement XII. The basilica’s official title is: Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist at the Lateran.