Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

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“He was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body”

In two weeks time, on the 22nd-23rd November, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the dedication and opening of our church. It will be for us a day of thanksgiving, of many memories, of prayers and of promise for the future development of our local parish community. But today, 9th November, we celebrate the dedication of another church, and our prayers reach back further into the past and stretch out wider to the universal community of the Church. Today we celebrate the dedication of the Lateran Basilica.

The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral church of the diocese of Rome; it is this church, not St. Peter’s Basilica, that is the cathedral of the Pope as Bishop of Rome. Built in the fourth century on land donated by the Emperor Constantine, it was originally dedicated to the Most Hoy Saviour. It remained the church and the home of the popes until the fourteenth century and was celebrated as the Mother Church of the city of Rome. Later it was seen also as the Mother and Head of all churches, not only of the City of Rome, but of all the world.

Today’s celebration reminds us to avoid being narrowly parochial. In celebrating the anniversary of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica we proclaim our union with and love for the Church of Rome, which presides over the whole universal Church. We may never allow ourselves to become a closed, self-sufficient, independent community. Today we rejoice in our membership of the universal church and pray for its greater unity. With all the baptised we are the true temple of God’s presence; we are the Body of the Risen Christ. We are God’s building, and the Holy Spirit is living among us.