PSALM 119: A CELEBRATION OF THE BEAUTY OF THE WORD OF GOD
VATICAN CITY, 9 NOV 2011 (VIS REPORTS) - In his general audience this morning Benedict XVI focused his catechesis on Psalm 119, the longest of the Psalms, constructed as an acrostic in which each stanza begins with one of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Its subject matter is "the Torah of the Lord; that is, His Law, a term which in its broadest and most complete definition comprehends teaching, instruction and life guidance. The Torah is revelation, it is the Word of God which is addressed to man and which arouses his response of faithful obedience and generous love", the Pope said. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
"The Psalmist's faithfulness arises from listening to the Word, from keeping it in his heart, meditating upon it and loving it, like Mary who 'treasured in her heart' the words addressed to her, the marvellous events in which God revealed Himself and asked for her response of faith", he explained. The Psalmist describes those who walk in the Law of the Lord as blessed, and indeed "Mary is blessed because she bore the Saviour in her womb, but above all because she accepted God's annunciation and treasured His Word attentively and lovingly".
Psalm 119 is constructed around this Word of life and blessing. Its central theme is the Word and the Law, and its verses are replete with synonyms thereof such as "precepts, decrees, promises", associated with verbs such as "to know, to love, to meditate, to live", the Holy Father explained. "The entire alphabet features in the twenty-two verses of the Psalm, as does the entire vocabulary of the believer's relationship of trust with God. We find praise, thanksgiving and trust, but also supplication and lamentation; however, all of them are pervaded by the certainty of divine grace and the power of the Word of God. Even those verses most marked by suffering and darkness remain open to hope and are permeated with faith".
The Law of God, which is "the centre of life", must be "listened to with obedience but not servility, with filial trust and awareness. To listen to the Word is to have a personal encounter with the Lord of life. ... The fulfilment of the Law is to follow Jesus". Thus Psalm 119 "guides us towards the Gospel", the Pope explained. In this context he focused particularly on verse 57: "The Lord is my portion; I promise to keep your words".
"The term 'portion'", he explained, "evokes the partition of the Promised Land among the tribes ofIsrael, when the Levites were given no part of the territory because their 'portion' was the Lord Himself. ... These verses are also important for us today, especially for priests, who are called to live from the Lord and from His Word alone, with no other guarantees, no other wealth, and having Him as their one source of true life. It is in this light that we can understand the free choice of celibacy for the Kingdom of heaven, which must be rediscovered in all its beauty and power.
"These verses are also important for the faithful, the People of God who belong only to Him", the Pope added in conclusion. "They are called to experience the radical nature of the Gospel, to be witnesses of the life brought by Christ, the new and definitive 'High Priest' Who offered Himself in sacrifice for the salvation of the world. The Lord and His Word are our 'land' in which to live in communion and joy".
VATICAN CITY, 9 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Having addressed greetings in a number of languages to the pilgrims attending his general audience this morning, Benedict XVI launched an appeal for the victims of recent flooding. "At this time", he said, "various parts of the world, from Latin America - and especially Central America - to Southeast Asia, have been hit by floods and landslides which have caused many deaths and left many missing and homeless. Once again I wish to express my closeness to all those who suffer these natural disasters, at the same time calling on people to pray for the victims and their families, and to show solidarity, that institutions and men and women of good will may collaborate generously to help the thousands of people affected by such calamities".
The Pope becomes honorary citizen of Natz-Schabs/Naz-Siaves
At the end of this morning's general audience, a delegation from the local authorities of Natz-Schabs/Naz-Siaves, located in the Italian province of Bolzano, led by Mayor Peter Gasser, conferred honorary citizenship upon the Pope. Benedict XVI's great-grandmother Elisabeth Maria Tauber and his grandmother, Maria Tauber-Peintner, were both born in that town, respectively, in 1832 and 1855.
VATICAN CITY, 9 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Msgr. Francesco Follo, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), participated in the general conference of that organisation, held in the French capital Paris on 29 October. His comments focused on the question of peace in the world which, he said, needs to be constructed on the basis of small communities such as the family, the school and the city. Extracts from his remarks are given below:
"Local peace is vital in order to achieve universal peace. ... Man is a social being, made to live in community. And it is in small communities, which constitute small societies, that we must first seek models and guidance to live in peace. There are many such small societies, but I will mention just three".
"The first is the family. If man is to learn to be human he must begin within the family. ... The family is an the place in which we first meet others. ... Learning to live in the family is, then, a priority".
The second "small society" is "the school, ... the place where children learn how to behave in a social setting. ... Children need various forms of culture and knowledge, but the school would be failing in its mission if it proposed only theoretical teachings while overlooking its duty to foster serene coexistence, which is necessary if each individual is to achieve fulfilment. ... For this reason we must use all possible means to ensure that children learn to live together, respecting legitimate differences and experiencing human fraternity and friendship. ... Wisdom is not only the accumulation of knowledge, it is the fruit of experience and of the art of living. For Christians it is a gift of God. What counts is not knowledge for its own sake, but knowing in order to serve, to live with others in peace".
"In a deeply divided world, threatened by violent confrontation in many forms, the school can produce workers for peace, promoting a culture of dialogue open to self-criticism. Moreover, in their own way and with their own means, schools can contrast situations of inequality, insisting that everyone's human rights be respected. Above all they can educate people to understand what we are: a single human family".
"Families and schools exist in what we could call a city. ... Our world is becoming increasingly urbanised, and cities have become the dwelling place of most of our contemporaries, places where, paradoxically, we experience refined culture and great violence, wealth and poverty. We must, then, work to ensure that cities and villages become truly human; in other words, to ensure that the community of individuals of which they are composed ... agree to base their lives on the positive principles deriving from their respective cultures, principles which lead to a culture of peace and the eradication of all forms of violence".
"The construction of peace on the basis of these three components: family, school and city, will lead to a culture of peace which may have a positive effect on the harmonious coexistence of nations".
VATICAN CITY, 9 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Bishop Jose F. Advincula of San Carlos, Philippines, as metropolitan archbishop of Capiz (area 2,663, population 766,753, Catholics 715,128, priests 113, religious 122), Philippines. He succeeds Archbishop Onesimo C. Gordoncillo, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Msgr. Franco Lovignana, vicar general of the diocese of Aosta, Italy, as bishop of that diocese (area 3,262, population 129,919, Catholics 127,116, priests 115, permanent deacons 17, religious 155). The bishop-elect was born in Aosta in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1981. Following his ordination he studied in Rome where he gained a degree in pastoral theology. He has worked as pastor, episcopal vicar for diocesan pastoral care and professor of theology; and as vice rector, bursar and later rector of the seminary of Aosta. He succeeds Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Elevated the territorial prelature of Obidos (area 182,960, population 210,200, Catholics 172,000, priests 21, religious 27), Brazil, to the rank of diocese, appointing Bishop Bernardo Johannes Bahlmann O.F.M., currently prelate of Obidos, as bishop of the new diocese.
UCAN REPORT: Many Catholic institutions in areas hit by the flood crisis have ceased activities and evacuated their residents, but some are also doing what they can to help badly affected people.
Floods in central Thailand have caused weeks of chaotic uncertainty about inundation of the capital Bangkok and left surrounding provinces covered in stagnant and dirty water
Nakhon Pathom province’s Samphran district, 30 kilometers west of Bangkok, has a large Catholic community with many Religious congregations running seminaries, schools and welfare homes.
As of yesterday nearly half the district was under water and the authorities have warned the entire area will be flooded in the next few days.
The Camillian Social Center, which cares for 135 elderly residents, has evacuated everyone.
“The water level was increasing very fast, so last Sunday we moved the residents to San Camilo Hospital in Ratchaburi, 40 kilometers away,’’ the center’s director Father Sante Togetto said.
The Marie Umpatham school run by the Salesian Sisters has been inundated by water around 60 centimeters deep, forcing it to delay opening for the new semester, according to Sister Lab Somchan. A government decree has anyway ordered schools to close until November 22.
The Salesian retreat and training center Ban Thanpraporn is closed and “we also transferred elderly nuns to Ratchaburi,” Sister Lab added.
The Oblates’ seminary in the district has sent its 18 seminarians to their home provinces after the water level rose to 80 centimeters. “Only three staff members remain and we’ve stopped all activities. We don’t know when we can begin operating again,” said Father Preecha Niyomtham, the institution’s deputy director.
Other Catholic institutions that are still dry have opened their doors to local flood victims.
The Louis Chauvet daycare center took in elderly people after their homes became flooded, its director Sister Laurence Pothinet said.
Elsewhere, Samphran’s Ascension Church is currently serving as a relief center and is providing meals for people affected by the flooding.
The nearby St. Joseph Umpatham school, meanwhile, is providing shelter for 60 people, according to Father Chatchawan Supaluck, parish priest of Ascension Church.
“If the floodwaters reach the school, we plan to move the people to the upper floors. If the situation worsens, we’ll move them to Ratchaburi,” he added.
Father Rutherford (CNS/Bob Roller)
Catholic News Service
ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- Soldiers "are making life and death decisions" every day in Iraq and Afghanistan, and military chaplains "are out there in the field with them day in and day out," said the Catholic priest who is the new Army chief of chaplains.
"We are taking care of people who are most in need at a time they're far away. We've had some soldiers deployed four and five times," said Father Donald Rutherford, a major general and chief of chaplains since July 22.
"They are fighting for our freedom" and freedom "for other people to care for themselves," Father Rutherford said in an interview withCatholic News Service in his office at the Pentagon.
The 56-year-old priest of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., was nominated for the top post and a promotion in rank from brigadier general in February after serving as deputy chief since November 2007.
Despite the ongoing debate about the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- and what has been one of the longest uninterrupted periods of combat in the nation's history -- surveys show that people rank the military higher than law or medicine as a profession, he noted. Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population is currently serving in uniform.
The country really needs "to support those soldiers that are there" and understand combat is only part of the story.
"We always hear about the war aspect, not the humanitarian," he said. "When you go into a village in Afghanistan or Iraq ... you can see the good our soldiers are doing."
President Barack Obama announced in October that all U.S. troops will be pulled out of Iraq by the end of the year, bringing that war to end. More than 4,400 U.S. service members have died in the Iraq War; about 1,800 in Afghanistan.
Father Rutherford's military career began with Army ROTC at Catholic-run Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y. He graduated in 1977 as a commissioned officer, but he put his military commitment on hold to attend the seminary. He was ordained in 1981 and also went into the Army Reserve.
After his bishop gave him permission to become an Army chaplain, he went on active duty in 1990.
His path to the Pentagon has included serving in the Persian Gulf War and in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been with the 3rd Infantry Division and the 82nd Airborne, among other units. He has earned a number of decorations, including the Bronze Star.
"The Holy Spirit has a sense of humor and I guess so does the president," Father Rutherford said of his appointment. "I really was humbled by it. I never thought this would happen."
The priest came under fire when he was in Iraq in 2005-06, and the chaplain assistant who protected him there is still by his side, serving on his staff at the Pentagon.
"Chaplains go forward on the battlefield and they are getting shot at, without weapons," Father Rutherford said, explaining that as noncombatants, chaplains are unarmed but "are well protected. ... We always have a chaplain assistant with us."
According to 2010 statistics, the latest available, the Army has about 2,900 full- and part-time chaplains. Among them are about 180 Catholic priests, with 99 priests on active duty. Many of these are older and several are retiree recalls. The chaplain corps also includes nine rabbis, six imams, two Buddhists and one Hindu; 139 chaplains are female.
In the Army, one in five soldiers is Catholic; only about one in 16 chaplains are Catholic priests.
A former recruiter of chaplains, Father Rutherford would like to see more Catholic priests consider the chaplaincy corps -- "if you want to go out and do diverse ministry, work with people from various diverse backgrounds, want to meet people from different denominations, different views."
He was pleased the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services recently reported that in the current academic year, 31 seminarians want to become military chaplains. Last year there were 23; in 2009-10 there were 12; and the previous year only three.
Once they are ordained and have three years of pastoral experience, their bishop will release them for three years of military service.
Among their many duties, chaplains assist in getting soldiers ready to be deployed, helping prepare them for separation from their families. They also are there to help them readjust to life back home when they return. Those assigned to serve in the field celebrate Mass for the troops there, hear confessions and provide counsel.
Father Donald Rutherford, chief of chaplains of the U.S. Army, is pictured at the Pentagon. (CNS/Bob Roller)
It's a major concern for chaplains, who "are trained for this," Father Rutherford said, explaining that the military has several programs in place, including one called "strong bonds" aimed at building relationships. It was developed over a 10-year period by the Army and the chaplains.
Another program, written by a chaplain, is called ACE, for "Ask, Care and Escort." Each soldier receives a small laminated ACE card, Father Rutherford said, explaining the steps: "'Ask' your buddy what's going on, and if they tell you something's wrong, you 'care' for them and you do the best you can until you can ... 'escort' them to get proper care either from a chaplain or health person."
Also, the Army this year began a five-year study with the National Institutes of Health to assess soldiers' mental health and well-being and identify factors that may contribute to stress or suicidal behavior.
Asked whether the end of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, the ban on gays openly serving in the military, will impact chaplains' work, Father Rutherford said: "We're going to take care of the soldiers we took care of before. We perform and provide ... and if you are unable to by your conscience, you would go and get someone to help them at all costs. We're going to do just what we did for 236 years -- take care of the soldier and their family."
The windows of Father Rutherford's office overlook the Pentagon Memorial, which pays somber tribute to the 184 people who lost their lives at that spot on 9/11. Another reminder of that fateful day is the chapel built inside the Pentagon during the reconstruction after the terrorist attacks.
"It's part of the people's lives" and is "used constantly" by all faiths, the priest said. "It shows the importance that faith has to the people who work here. It reflects our military."
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT:
Furniture and carpentry students at Burwood's Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College have been hard at work constructing a cypress pine picket fence. Pupils from five Sydney Catholic schools have been equally busy, spending weekends and other days at a hall in Caringbah creating a spectacular painting on plywood.
Now starting on Monday, 14 November, the young people will have a chance to see the fruits of their labours when installation of St Mary's Cathedral's Outdoor Nativity begins.
The Outdoor Nativity is beloved by Sydneysiders both Catholics and non-Catholics unlike. But this is the first time the Nativity has employed the talents of students to design and create a hand-made fence to go around the perimeter and a brilliantly imagined vibrant backdrop to off-set the 12 life-size figures including those of the Angel Gabriel, Mary, Joseph and the Christ-child.
In previous years the Outdoor Nativity, which is erected each year in the Cathedral forecourt, has been surrounded by a series of street barriers.
"But now, thanks to the students at Southern Cross, we have our own very handsome beautifully-made fence," says a delighted Dieter Koch, Property Officer for the Archdiocese.
He is equally thrilled with the backdrop.
After more than five years, the original backdrop by well-known Sydney artist, Tony Johansen, had suffered from exposure to weather and normal wear and tear. A new one was needed, but this time instead of turning to professional artists, the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell was keen to employ the talents, vision and enthusiasm of young people from the city's Catholic secondary schools.
John Charadia, Creative Arts Adviser for the Catholic Education (CEO), embraced the Cardinal's suggestion and immediately invited visual art classes at different schools across the Archdiocese to participate.
Those first off the mark were chosen. Then in April, under John's enthusiastic guidance, visual art students from Marist Sisters College, Woolwich, Freeman Catholic High School at Bonnyrigg, Kingsgrove's St Ursula's College, Auburn Trinity Catholic College and De La Salle College at Caringbah met for the first time to discuss the design and vision for the new backdrop.
"I wanted this to be very much a collaborative effort between students from all five schools," says John.
Taking their inspiration from what the Nativity meant to them and to their faith, the young visual artists agreed the theme should be 'light of hope.'
"Which was when some students took ownership of the image of light, while others took ownership of the star and others of the sand dunes," John says.
Along with the beautiful imagined images and design, the students wanted the colours of the backdrop to echo and complement those used for Nativity's life-size figures and animals, which were commissioned and created in Italy in 2005 by the Demetz family, renowned ecclesiastical artists since the 16th century.
"With the backdrop measuring 7 metres wide by 6 metres in height, we used a hall in Caringbah. At that size the plywood backdrop had to be laid out on the floor. This was how it had to be painted and to look at the work we hired a platform ladder with everyone climbing up to almost ceiling height, where they could look down on the work and see what had to be fixed or what needed adding," says John.
Not only working during their visual arts classes at school, the students also worked on the project on weekends, often under John's supervision as well as that of professional artist Wanda Grein, who frequently works with John on the artists' retreats he organises.
The results are spectacular and the 11 different panels that make up the backdrop are now being carefully bubble-wrapped and transported from Caringbah to the Cathedral in preparation for its installation as part of the Outdoor Nativity over the next few weeks.
From Monday, 14 November installation of the Outdoor Nativity will begin and on Sunday, 27 November which marks the start of Advent, the Nativity will be unveiled and blessed by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell.
Archbishop Peter Smith with Commissioner Ian McPherson
The first reading was recited by Superintendent Lisa Crook of the Metropolitan Police and the second reading was delivered by Chief Inspector Michael Slemensek of Warwickshire Constabulary. The bidding prayers were read by Metropolitan Police detective sergeant Chris Sloan who is chairman of the Guild.
The Mass was sung by the Metropolitan Police Male Voice Choir conducted by Richard Fox by kind permission of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bernard Hogan - Howe. Trumpeter Martyn Tubb played the The Last Post which was followed by two minutes silence.
The service concluded with The National Anthem which was sung by the Choir plus the whole congregation.
Among the senior police officers in attendance from many parts of the country was Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Ian McPherson who is a former Chief Constable of Norfolk(2006-2009) and is pictured with Archbishop Smith who by coincidence is a former Bishop of East Anglia(1995- 2001).
"The attacks began in late August and still continue, in different areas in Abidjan" continues Fr. Obrou. Even in other parts of the Country there are assaults on Catholic Church buildings. In September a group of bandits attacked the Bishop of San Pedro’s residence (see Fides 29/09/2011).
"We had a meeting with President Ouattara, with the Minister of Defence and Security to report the situation. Policemen and gendarmes have been placed in front of some parishes, but robberies continue", said Fr. Obrou.
Côte d'Ivoire is emerging from 10 years of division and violence, a turbulent period which began in September 2002 and concluded in April this year with the victory of the forces of the current President Alassane Ouattara, backed by French troops, and the UN, against those of former President Laurent Gbagbo, who is now under arrest. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 09/11/2011)
Feast: November 9
This is the oldest, and ranks first among the four great "patriarchal" basilicas of Rome. The site was, in ancient times, occupied by the palace of the family of the Laterani. A member of this family, P. Sextius Lateranus, was the first plebian to attain the rank of consul. In the time of Nero, another member of the family, Plautius Lateranus, at the time consul designatus was accused of conspiracy against the emperor, and his goods were confiscated. Juvenal mentions the palace, and speaks of it as being of some magnificence, "regiæ ædes Lateranorum". Some few remains of the original buildings may still be traced in the city walls outside the Gate of St. John, and a large hall decorated with paintings was uncovered in the eighteenth century within the basilica itself, behind the Lancellotti Chapel. A few traces of older buildings also came to light during the excavations made in 1880, when the work of extending the apse was in progress, but nothing was then discovered of real value or importance. The palace came eventually into the hands of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, through his wife Fausta, and it is from her that it derived the name by which it was then sometimes called, "Domus Faustæ". Constantine must have given it to the Church in the time of Miltiades, not later than about 311, for we find a council against the Donatists meeting within its walls as early as 313. From that time onwards it was always the centre of Christian life within the city; the residence of the popes and the cathedral of Rome. The latter distinction it still holds, though it has long lost the former. Hence the proud title which may be read upon its walls, that it is "Omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater, et caput".
It seems probable, in spite of the tradition that Constantine helped in the work of building with his own hands, that there was not a new basilica erected at the Lateran, but that the work carried out at this period was limited to the adaptation, which perhaps involved the enlargement, of the already existing basilica or great hall of the palace. The words of St. Jerome "basilica quondam Laterani" (Ep. lxxiii, P.L., XXII, col. 692) seem to point in this direction, and it is also probable on other grounds. This original church was probably not of very large dimensions, but we have no reliable information on the subject. It was dedicated to the Saviour, "Basilica Salvatoris", the dedication to St. John being of later date, and due to a Benedictine monastery of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist which adjoined the basilica and where members were charged at one period with the duty of maintaining the services in the church. This later dedication to St. John has now in popular usage altogether superseded the original one. A great many donations from the popes and other benefactors to the basilica are recorded in the "Liber Pontificalis", and its splendour at an early period was such that it became known as the "Basilica Aurea", or Golden Church. This splendour drew upon it the attack of the Vandals, who stripped it of all its treasures. St. Leo the Great restored it about 460, and it was again restored by Hadrian I, but in 896 it was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake ("ab altari usque ad portas cecidit"). The damage was so extensive that it was difficult to trace in every case the lines of the old building, but these were in the main respected and the new building was of the same dimensions as the old. This secondchurch lasted for four hundred years and was then burnt down. It was rebuilt by Clement V and John XXII, only to be burnt down once more in 1360, but again rebuilt by Urban V.
Through these various vicissitudes the basilica retained its ancient form, being divided by rows of columns into aisles, and having in front an atrium surrounded by colonnades with a fountain in the middle. The façade had three windows, and was embellished with a mosaic representing Christ as the Saviour of the world. The porticoes of the atrium were decorated with frescoes, probably not dating further back than the twelfth century, which commemorated the Roman fleet under Vespasian, the taking of Jerusalem, the Baptism of the Emperor Constantine and his "Donation" to the Church. Inside the basilica the columns no doubt ran, as in all other basilicas of the same date, the whole length of the church from east to west, but at one of the rebuildings, probably that which was carried out by Clement V, the feature of a transverse nave was introduced, imitated no doubt from the one which had been, long before this, added at S. Paolo fuori le Mura. It was probably at this time also that the church was enlarged. When the popes returned to Rome from their long absence at Avignon they found the city deserted and the churches almost in ruins. Great works were begun at the Lateran by Martin V and his successors. The palace, however, was never again used by them as a residence, the Vatican, which stands in a much drier and healthier position, being chosen in its place. It was not until the latter part of the seventeenth century that thechurch took its present appearance, in the tasteless restoration carried out by Innocent X, with Borromini for his architect. The ancient columns were now enclosed in huge pilasters, with gigantic statues in front. In consequence of this the church has entirely lost the appearance of an ancient basilica, and is completely altered in character.
Some portions of the older buildings still survive. Among these we may notice the pavement of medieval Cosmatesque work, and the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul, now in the cloisters. The graceful baldacchino over the high altar, which looks so utterly out of place in its present surroundings, dates from 1369. The stercoraria, or throne of red marble on which the popes sat, is now in the Vatican Museum. It owes its unsavoury name to the anthem sung at the ceremony of the papal enthronization, "De stercore erigeus pauperem". From the fifth century there were seven oratories surrounding the basilica. These before long were thrown into the actual church. The devotion of visiting these oratories, which held its ground all through the medieval period, gave rise to the similar devotion of the seven altars, still common in many churches of Rome and elsewhere. Between the basilica and the city wall there was in former times the great monastery, in which dwelt the community of monks whose duty it was to provide the services in the basilica. The only part of it which still survives is the cloister, surrounded by graceful columns of inlaid marble. They are of a style intermediate between the Romanesque proper and the Gothic, and are the work of Vassellectus and the Cosmati. The date of these beautiful cloisters is the early part of the thirteenth century.
The ancient apse, with mosaics of the fourth century, survived all the many changes and dangers of the Middle Ages, and was still to be seen very much in its original condition as late as 1878, when it was destroyed in order to provide a larger space for the ordinations and other pontifical functions which take place in this cathedral church of Rome. The original mosaics were, however, preserved with the greatest possible care and very great success, and were re-erected at the end of the new and deeper apse which had been provided. In these mosaics, as they now appear, the centre of the upper portion is occupied by the figure of Christ surrounded by nine angels. This figure is extremely ancient, and dates from the fifth, or it may be even the fourth century. It is possible even that it is the identical one which, as is told in ancienttradition, was manifested to the eyes of the worshippers on the occasion of the dedication of the church: "Imago Salvatoris infixa parietibus primum visibilis omni populo Romano apparuit" (Joan. Diac., "Lib. de Ecclesia Lat.", P.L. CXCIV, 1543-1560). If it is so, however, it has certainly been retouched. Below is seen the crux gammata, surmounted by a dove which symbolizes the Holy Spirit, and standing on a hill whence flow the four rivers of the Gospels, from whose waters stags and sheep come to drink. On either side are saints, looking towards the Cross. These last are thought to belong originally to the sixth century, though they were repaired and altered in the thirteenth by Nicholas IV, whose effigy may be seen prostrate at the feet of the Blessed Virgin. The river which runs below is more ancient still, and may be regarded as going back to Constantine and the first days of the basilica. The remaining mosaics of the apse are of the thirteenth century, and the signatures of the artists, Torriti and Camerino, may still be read upon them. Camerino was a Franciscan friar; perhaps Torriti was one also.
The pavement of the basilica dates from Martin V and the return of the popes to Rome from Avignon. Martin V was of the Colonna family, and the columns are their badge. The high altar, which formerly occupied the position customary in all ancient basilicas, in the centre of the chord of the apse, has now beyond it, owing to the successive enlargements of the church, the whole of the transverse nave and of the new choir. It has no saint buried beneath it, since it was not, as were almost all the other great churches of Rome, erected over the tomb of a martyr. It stands alone among all the altars of the Catholic world in being of wood and not of stone, and enclosing no relics of any kind. The reason for this peculiarity is that it is itself a relic of a most interesting kind, being the actual wooden altar upon which St. Peter is believed to have celebrated Mass during his residence in Rome. It was carefully preserved through all the years of persecution, and was brought by Constantine and Sylvester from St. Pudentiana's, where it had been kept till then, to become the principal altar of the cathedral church of Rome. It is now, of course, enclosed in a larger altar of stone and cased with marble, but the original wood can still be seen. A small portion was left at St. Pudentiana's in memory of its long connection with that church, and is still preserved there. Above the High Altar is the canopy or baldacchino already mentioned, a Gothic structure resting on four marble columns, and decorated with paintings by Barna of Siena. In the upper part of the baldacchino are preserved the heads of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the great treasure of the basilica, which until this shrine was prepared to receive them had always been kept in the "Sancta Sanctorum", the private chapel of the Lateran Palace adjoining. Behind the apse there formerly extended the "Leonine" portico; it is not known which pontiff gave it this name. At the entrance there was an inscription commemorating the dream of Innocent III, when he saw the church of the Lateran upheld by St. Francis of Assisi. On the opposite wall was hung the tabula magna, or catalogue of all the relics of the basilica, and also of the different chapels and the indulgences attached to them respectively. It is now in the archives of the basilica.
13The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.14In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business.15And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.16And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade."17His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for thy house will consume me."18The Jews then said to him, "What sign have you to show us for doing this?"19Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."20The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?"21But he spoke of the temple of his body.22When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.