Papal selection before 1059
There was no fixed process for papal selection before 1059. Popes, the bishops of Rome and the leaders of the Catholic Church, were appointed by their predecessors or secular rulers. While the process was characterized by some capacity of election, an election with the meaningful participation of the laity was the exception to the rule as the popes' claims to temporal power solidified into the Papal States; the practice of papal appointment during this period would give rise to the jus exclusivae, a veto right exercised by Catholic monarchies into the twentieth century. The lack of an institutionalized process for papal succession was prone to religious schism, several papal claimants before 1059 are regarded by the Church as antipopes. Furthermore, the frequent requirement of secular approval of elected popes lengthened periods of sede vacante and weakened the papacy. In 1059, Pope Nicholas II succeeded in limiting future papal electors to the cardinals with In nomine Domini, creating standardized papal elections that would evolve into the papal conclave.
There is no scholarly consensus on when and on what terms Saint Peter arrived in Rome, but most agree that he died there in 64 or 67. Moreover, Peter was never contemporaneously referred to as a "pope" or a "bishop". Unlike the selection process for a deacon, outlined in Acts 6:1-6, there is no biblical method for the selection of a bishop other than by simple apostolic appointment. Although the election of bishops in other early Christian communities is described in contemporary sources, the earliest Roman sources date from 400, claiming that Peter himself appointed Linus and Clement—in that order—as his successors; the early official lists of Bishops of Rome are considered problematic by scholars because of their bias towards enhancing papal authority and anachronistically imposing continuity. Eusebius relates a legend of the election of Fabian in 236: a dove landed on Fabian's head and "thereupon the people, all as if impelled by one divine spirit, with one united and eager voice cried out that he was worthy, they set him on the episcopal seat".
This anecdote makes clear that "the choice of bishop was the public concern for the entire Christian community of Rome". Fabian can reliably be regarded as a victim of the persecution of Emperor Decius, after which there was no election for fourteen months; the next available evidence comes from the schism between Novatian and Cornelius, both elected bishop by their own factions, both writing to Cyprian, bishop of Carthage for support. Cyprian sided with Cornelius, writing that: Moreover, Cornelius was made bishop by the choice of God and of His Christ, by the favorable witness of all of the clergy, by the votes of the laity present, by the assembly of bishops. Cyprian remarks that Cornelius had been ordained by sixteen bishops from the surrounding region, while Novatian had only been ordained by three, the first definite evidence of a true schism in the Roman church. Mark was the first to designate the bishop of Ostia as the first among the consecrators of the new bishop of Rome. However, the influence of Emperor Constantine I, a contemporary of Sylvester I and Mark, would help solidify a strong role for the Roman emperor in the selection process: Constantine chose Julius I for all intents and purposes, his son Constantius II exiled Liberius and installed Felix II as his successor.
Felix and Liberius were succeeded in schism by Ursinus and Damasus the latter of whom managed to prevail by sheer bloodshed, he is the first bishop of Rome who can non-anachronistically be referred to as a "Pope". Damasus persuaded the Emperor to decree him "bishop of bishops", a claim that antagonized Eastern bishops, leading to the First Council of Constantinople in 381, which dealt in part with the issue of supremacy. With this new title, the method of selection of the bishop of Rome remained much the same. Both the clergy and the laity continued to participate in the selection, along with local and imperial politics. Other trends can be observed, as well, such as father-to-son succession between Pope Anastasius I and Pope Innocent I. Emperor Honorius stepped in to resolve the schism between Eulalius and Pope Boniface I, siding with Eulalius first and Boniface I. Honorius decreed. Elections of the same manner continued undisputed until Pope Simplicius, terminally ill for enough of his papacy to devote time to succession issues, who decreed that the minister of Germanic general Odoacer, a Roman nobleman, would have the power of approval over his successor: the result was Pope Felix III, the first patrician pope.
The next electoral schism of note developed between Symmachus and Laurentius, who both appealed to Theodoric the Great, the Ostrogoth king of Italy.
Constantine IV, sometimes incorrectly called Pogonatos, "the Bearded", out of confusion with his father, was Byzantine Emperor from 668 to 685. His reign saw the first serious check to nearly 50 years of uninterrupted Islamic expansion, while his calling of the Sixth Ecumenical Council saw the end of the monothelitism controversy in the Byzantine Empire; the eldest son of Constans II, Constantine IV had been named a co-emperor with his father in 654. He had been given the responsibility of managing the affairs at Constantinople during his father’s extended absence in Italy and became senior Emperor when Constans was assassinated in 668, his mother was daughter of patrician Valentinus. The first task before the new Emperor was the suppression of the military revolt in Sicily under Mezezius which had led to his father's death. Within seven months of his accession, Constantine IV had dealt with the insurgency with the support of Pope Vitalian, but this success was overshadowed by troubles in the east.
As early as 668 the Caliph Muawiyah I received an invitation from Saborios, the commander of the troops in Armenia, to help overthrow the Emperor at Constantinople. He sent an army under his son Yazid against the Byzantine Empire. Yazid took the important Byzantine center Amorion. While the city was recovered, the Arabs next attacked Carthage and Sicily in 669. In 670 the Arabs captured Cyzicus and set up a base from which to launch further attacks into the heart of the Empire, their fleet captured Smyrna and other coastal cities in 672. In 672, the Arabs sent a large fleet to attack Constantinople by sea. While Constantine was distracted by this, the Slavs laid siege to Thessalonica. Commencing in 674, the Arabs launched the long-awaited siege of Constantinople; the great fleet, assembled set sail under the command of Abdu'l-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr before the end of the year. Additional squadrons reinforced the forces of Abd ar-Rahman before they proceeded to the Hellespont, into which they sailed in about April 674.
From April to September 674 the fleet lay moored from the promontory of Hebdomon, on the Propontis, as far as the promontory of Kyklobion, near the Golden Gate, throughout those months continued to engage with the Byzantine fleet which defended the harbour from morning to evening. Knowing that it was only a matter of time before Constantinople was under siege, Constantine had ensured that the city was well provisioned, he constructed a large number of fireships and fast-sailing boats provided with tubes or siphons for squirting fire. This is the first known use of Greek fire in combat, one of the key advantages that the Byzantines possessed. In September the Arabs, having failed in their attempts to take the city, sailed to Cyzicus, which they made their winter quarters. Over the following five years, the Arabs would return each spring to continue the siege of Constantinople, but with the same results; the city survived, in 678 the Arabs were forced to raise the siege. The Arabs withdrew and were simultaneously defeated on land in Lycia in Anatolia.
This unexpected reverse forced Muawiyah I to seek a truce with Constantine. The terms of the concluded truce required the Arabs to evacuate the islands they had seized in the Aegean, to pay an annual tribute to the Emperor consisting of fifty slaves, fifty horses, 3,000 pounds of gold; the raising of the siege allowed Constantine to go to the relief of Thessalonica, still under siege from the Slavs. With the temporary passing of the Arab threat, Constantine turned his attention to the Church, torn between Monothelitism and Orthodoxy. In November 680 Constantine convened the Sixth Ecumenical Council. Constantine presided in person during the formal aspects of the proceedings, surrounded by his court officials, but he took no active role in the theological discussions; the Council reaffirmed the Orthodox doctrines of the Council of Chalcedon in 451. This solved the controversy over monothelitism; the council closed in September 681. Due to the ongoing conflicts with the Arabs during the 670s, Constantine had been forced to conclude treaties in the west with the Lombards, who had captured Brindisi and Taranto.
In 680, the Bulgars under Khan Asparukh crossed the Danube into nominally Imperial territory and began to subjugate the local communities and Slavyanic tribes. In 680, Constantine IV led a combined land and sea operation against the invaders and besieged their fortified camp in Dobruja. Suffering from bad health, the Emperor had to leave the army, which panicked and was defeated by the Bulgars. In 681, Constantine was forced to acknowledge the Bulgar state in Moesia and to pay tribute/protection money to avoid further inroads into Byzantine Thrace. Constantine created the Theme of Thrace, his brothers Heraclius and Tiberius had been crowned with him as Augusti during the reign of their father, this was confirmed by the demand of the populace, but in 681 Constantine had them mutilated so they would be ineligible to rule. At the same time he associated on the throne his own young son Justinian II. Constantine died of dysentery in September 685. By his wife Anastasia, Constantine IV had at least two sons: Justinian II, who succeeded him as emperor Heraclius, known only from an episode in which his father sent locks of his and his brother's hair to Pope Benedict II.
Papal tombs in old St. Peter's Basilica
The papal tombs in old St. Peter's Basilica were the final resting places of the popes, most which dated from the fifth to sixteenth centuries; the majority of these tombs were destroyed during the sixteenth through seventeenth century demolition of old St. Peter's Basilica, except for one, destroyed during the Saracen Sack of the church in 846; the remainder were transferred in part to new St. Peter's Basilica, which stands on the site of the original basilica, a handful of other churches of Rome. Along with the repeated translations from the ancient catacombs of Rome and two fourteenth century fires in Basilica of St. John Lateran, the rebuilding of St. Peter's is responsible for the destruction of half of all papal tombs; as a result, Donato Bramante, the chief architect of modern St. Peter's Basilica, has been remembered as "Mastro Ruinante". Although the original basilica's construction was begun during the reign of emperor Constantine I and completed in the fourth century, Pope Leo I was the first pope buried in the Constantian basilica.
Over the centuries, both the atrium and the nave of the basilica were packed with papal tombs, which were juggled between different sections of the church as construction took place on each section of the basilica. All that remains of the original tombs are sculptural fragments. Pope Julius II, the pope who initiated the destruction of the Constantinian basilica, wished to clear space for a "monstrous" tomb of his own by Michelangelo. Little is known about the placement and appearance of the original tombs: one of the most valuable accounts is that of church canon and historian Giacomo Grimaldi, who sketched the tombs as they were moved around the basilica on the way to their destruction. A few destroyed papal tombs are detailed in the writings of Alphonsus Ciacconius. Not all popes were buried in Rome. See list of non-extant papal tombs Partially extant, moved, or rebuilt tombs are shown with a darkened background. Index of Vatican City-related articles Papal tombs St. Peter's tomb Gardner, The Tomb and the Tiara, Oxford: Clarendon Press, ISBN 978-0-19-817510-0 Mann, H. K.
Tombs and Portraits of the Popes of the Middle Ages, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7661-2903-0 Reardon, Wendy J. 2004. The Deaths of the Popes. Macfarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-1527-4 Information and images on papal tombs from the Requiem project
Justinian II, surnamed the Rhinotmetos or Rhinotmetus, was the last Byzantine Emperor of the Heraclian Dynasty, reigning from 685 to 695 and again from 705 to 711. Justinian II was an ambitious and passionate ruler, keen to restore the Roman Empire to its former glories, but he responded poorly to any opposition to his will and lacked the finesse of his father, Constantine IV, he generated enormous opposition to his reign, resulting in his deposition in 695 in a popular uprising, he only returned to the throne in 705 with the help of a Bulgar and Slav army. His second reign was more despotic than the first, it too saw his eventual overthrow in 711, abandoned by his army who turned on him before killing him. Justinian II was the eldest son of Anastasia, his father raised him to the throne as joint emperor in 681 on the fall of his uncles Heraclius and Tiberius. In 685, at the age of sixteen, Justinian II succeeded his father as sole emperor. Due to Constantine IV's victories, the situation in the Eastern provinces of the Empire was stable when Justinian ascended the throne.
After a preliminary strike against the Arabs in Armenia, Justinian managed to augment the sum paid by the Umayyad Caliphs as an annual tribute, to regain control of part of Cyprus. The incomes of the provinces of Armenia and Iberia were divided among the two empires. In 687, as part of his agreements with the Caliphate, Justinian removed from their native Lebanon 12,000 Christian Maronites, who continually resisted the Arabs. Additional resettlement efforts, aimed at the Mardaites and inhabitants of Cyprus allowed Justinian to reinforce naval forces depleted by earlier conflicts. In 688, Justinian signed a treaty with the Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan which rendered Cyprus neutral ground, with its tax revenue split. Justinian took advantage of the peace in the East to regain possession of the Balkans, which were before almost under the heel of Slavic tribes. In 687 Justinian transferred cavalry troops from Anatolia to Thrace. With a great military campaign in 688–689, Justinian defeated the Bulgars of Macedonia and was able to enter Thessalonica, the second most important Byzantine city in Europe.
The subdued Slavs were resettled in Anatolia, where they were to provide a military force of 30,000 men. Emboldened by the increase of his forces in Anatolia, Justinian now renewed the war against the Arabs. With the help of his new troops, Justinian won a battle against the enemy in Armenia in 693, but they were soon bribed to revolt by the Arabs; the result was that Justinian was comprehensively defeated at the Battle of Sebastopolis, caused by the defection of most of his Slavic troops, while he himself was forced to flee to the Propontis. There, according to Theophanes, he took out his frustration by slaughtering as many of the Slavs in and around Opsikion as he could lay his hands on. In the meantime, a Patrician by the name of Symbatius proceeded to rebel in Armenia, opened up the province to the Arabs, who proceeded to conquer it in 694–695. Meanwhile, the Emperor's bloody persecution of the Manichaeans and suppression of popular traditions of non-Orthodox origin caused dissension within the Church.
In 692 Justinian convened the so-called Quinisext Council at Constantinople to put his religious policies into effect. The Council expanded and clarified the rulings of the Fifth and Sixth ecumenical councils, but by highlighting differences between the Eastern and Western observances the council compromised Byzantine relations with the Roman Church; the emperor ordered Pope Sergius I arrested, but the militias of Rome and Ravenna rebelled and took the Pope's side. Justinian contributed to the development of the thematic organization of the Empire, creating a new theme of Hellas in southern Greece and numbering the heads of the five major themes- Thrace in Europe, the Anatolikon, Armeniakon themes in Asia Minor, the maritime corps of the Karabisianoi- among the senior administrators of the Empire, he sought to protect the rights of peasant freeholders, who served as the main recruitment pool for the armed forces of the Empire, against attempts by the aristocracy to acquire their land. This put him in direct conflict with some of the largest landholders in the Empire.
While his land policies threatened the aristocracy, his tax policy was unpopular with the common people. Through his agents Stephen and Theodotos, the emperor raised the funds to gratify his sumptuous tastes and his mania for erecting costly buildings. This, ongoing religious discontent, conflicts with the aristocracy, displeasure over his resettlement policy drove his subjects into rebellion. In 695 the population rose under Leontios, the strategos of Hellas, proclaimed him Emperor. Justinian was deposed and his nose was cut off to prevent his again seeking the throne: such mutilation was common in Byzantine culture, he was exiled to Cherson in the Crimea. Leontius, after a reign of three years, was in turn dethroned and imprisoned by Tiberius Apsimarus, who next assumed the throne. While in exile, Justinian began to gather supporters for an attempt to retake the throne. Justinian became a liability to Cherson and the authorities decided to return him to Constantinople in 702 or 703, he escaped from Cherson and received help from Busir, the khagan of the Khazars, who received him enthusiastically and gave him his sister as a bride.
Justinian renamed her Theodora, after the wife of Justinian I. They were given a home in the town
Old St. Peter's Basilica
Old St. Peter's Basilica was the building that stood, from the 4th to 16th centuries, where the new St. Peter's Basilica stands today in Vatican City. Construction of the basilica, built over the historical site of the Circus of Nero, began during the reign of Emperor Constantine I; the name "old St. Peter's Basilica" has been used since the construction of the current basilica to distinguish the two buildings. Construction began by orders of the Roman Emperor Constantine I between 318 and 322, took about 40 years to complete. Over the next twelve centuries, the church gained importance becoming a major place of pilgrimage in Rome. Papal coronations were held at the basilica, in 800, Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire there. In 846, Saracens damaged the basilica; the raiders seem to have known about Rome's extraordinary treasures. Some holy – and impressive – basilicas, such as St. Peter's Basilica, were outside the Aurelian walls, thus easy targets, they were "filled to overflowing with rich liturgical vessels and with jeweled reliquaries housing all of the relics amassed".
As a result, the raiders pillaged the holy shrine. In response Pope Leo IV built the Leonine wall and rebuilt the parts of St. Peter's, damaged. In 1099, Urban II convened a council including St Anselm. Among other topics, it repeated the bans on lay investiture and on clergy's paying homage to secular lords. By the 15th century the church was falling into ruin. Discussions on repairing parts of the structure commenced upon the pope's return from Avignon. Two people involved in this reconstruction were Leon Battista Alberti and Bernardo Rossellino, who improved the apse and added a multi-story benediction loggia to the atrium facade, on which construction continued intermittently until the new basilica was begun. Alberti pronounced the basilica a structural abomination: I have noticed in the basilica of St. Peter's in Rome a crass feature: an long and high wall has been constructed over a continuous series of openings, with no curves to give it strength, no buttresses to lend it support... The whole stretch of wall has been pierced by too many openings and built too high...
As a result, the continual force of the wind has displaced the wall more than six feet from the vertical. At first Pope Julius II had every intention of preserving the old building, but his attention soon turned toward tearing it down and building a new structure. Many people of the time were shocked by the proposal, as the building represented papal continuity going back to Peter; the original altar was to be preserved in the new structure. The design was a typical basilica form with the plan and elevation resembling those of Roman basilicas and audience halls, such as the Basilica Ulpia in Trajan's Forum and Constantine's own Aula Palatina at Trier, rather than the design of any Greco-Roman temple. Constantine went to great pains to build the basilica on the site of Saint Peter's grave, this fact influenced the layout of the building; the Vatican Hill, on the west bank of the Tiber River, was leveled. Notably, since the site was outside the boundaries of the ancient city, the apse with the altar was located in the west so that the basilica's façade could be approached from Rome itself to the east.
The exterior however, unlike earlier pagan temples, was not lavishly decorated. The church was capable of housing from 3,000 to 4,000 worshipers at one time, it consisted of five aisles, a wide central nave and two smaller aisles to each side, which were each divided by 21 marble columns, taken from earlier pagan buildings. It was over 350 feet long, built in the shape of a Latin cross, had a gabled roof, timbered on the interior and which stood at over 100 feet at the center. An atrium, known as the "Garden of Paradise", stood at the entrance and had five doors which led to the body of the church; the altar of Old St. Peter's Basilica used several Solomonic columns. According to tradition, Constantine took these columns from the Temple of Solomon and gave them to the church; when Gian Lorenzo Bernini built his baldacchino to cover the new St. Peter's altar, he drew from the twisted design of the old columns. Eight of the original columns were moved to the piers of the new St. Peter's; the great Navicella mosaic in the atrium is attributed to Giotto di Bondone.
The giant mosaic, commissioned by Cardinal Jacopo Stefaneschi, occupied the whole wall above the entrance arcade facing the courtyard. It depicted St. Peter walking on the waters; this extraordinary work was destroyed during the construction of the new St. Peter's in the 16th century, but fragments were preserved. Navicella means "little ship" referring to the large boat which dominated the scene, whose sail, filled by the storm, loomed over the horizon; such a natural representation of a seascape was known only from ancient works of art. The nave ended with an arch, which held a mosaic of Constantine and Saint Peter, who presented a model of the church to Christ. On the walls, each having 11 windows, were frescoes of various people and scenes from both the Old and New Testament; the fragment of an eighth-century mosaic, the Epiphany, is one of the rare remaining bits of the medieval decoration of Old St. Peter's Basilica; the precious fragment is kept in the sacristy of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.
It proves the high artistic quality of the destroyed mosaics. Another one, a standing madonna, is on a side altar in the Basilica of San Marco in Florence. Since the crucifixion and burial of Saint Peter in
The Byzantine Empire referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm. Several signal events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the period of transition during which the Roman Empire's Greek East and Latin West diverged. Constantine I reorganised the empire, made Constantinople the new capital, legalised Christianity. Under Theodosius I, Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and other religious practices were proscribed.
Under the reign of Heraclius, the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use in place of Latin. Thus, although the Roman state continued and its traditions were maintained, modern historians distinguish Byzantium from ancient Rome insofar as it was centred on Constantinople, oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, characterised by Eastern Orthodox Christianity; the borders of the empire evolved over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I, the empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the Roman western Mediterranean coast, including North Africa and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries; the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 exhausted the empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Early Muslim conquests of the 7th century, when it lost its richest provinces and Syria, to the Arab caliphate. During the Macedonian dynasty, the empire expanded again and experienced the two-century long Macedonian Renaissance, which came to an end with the loss of much of Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.
This battle opened the way for the Turks to settle in Anatolia. The empire recovered during the Komnenian restoration, by the 12th century Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest European city. However, it was delivered a mortal blow during the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked in 1204 and the territories that the empire governed were divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople in 1261, the Byzantine Empire remained only one of several small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence, its remaining territories were progressively annexed by the Ottomans over the 15th century. The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 ended the Byzantine Empire; the last of the imperial Byzantine successor states, the Empire of Trebizond, would be conquered by the Ottomans eight years in the 1461 Siege of Trebizond. The first use of the term "Byzantine" to label the years of the Roman Empire was in 1557, when the German historian Hieronymus Wolf published his work Corpus Historiæ Byzantinæ, a collection of historical sources.
The term comes from "Byzantium", the name of the city of Constantinople before it became Constantine's capital. This older name of the city would be used from this point onward except in historical or poetic contexts; the publication in 1648 of the Byzantine du Louvre, in 1680 of Du Cange's Historia Byzantina further popularised the use of "Byzantine" among French authors, such as Montesquieu. However, it was not until the mid-19th century that the term came into general use in the Western world; the Byzantine Empire was known to its inhabitants as the "Roman Empire", the "Empire of the Romans", "Romania", the "Roman Republic", as "Rhōmais". The inhabitants called themselves Romaioi and as late as the 19th century Greeks referred to Modern Greek as Romaiika "Romaic." After 1204 when the Byzantine Empire was confined to its purely Greek provinces the term'Hellenes' was used instead. While the Byzantine Empire had a multi-ethnic character during most of its history and preserved Romano-Hellenistic traditions, it became identified by its western and northern contemporaries with its predominant Greek element.
The occasional use of the term "Empire of the Greeks" in the West to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire and of the Byzantine Emperor as Imperator Graecorum were used to separate it from the prestige of the Roman Empire within the new kingdoms of the West. No such distinction existed in the Islamic and Slavic worlds, where the Empire was more straightforwardly seen as the continuation of the Roman Empire. In the Islamic world, the Roman Empire was known as Rûm; the name millet-i Rûm, or "Roman nation," was used by the Ottomans through the 20th century to refer to the former subjects of the Byzantine Empire
Archbasilica of St. John Lateran
The Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior and of Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in the Lateran, – known as the Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, St. John Lateran, or the Lateran Basilica – is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome in the city of Rome and serves as the seat of the Roman Pontiff, it is the oldest and highest ranking of the four papal major basilicas, giving it the unique title of "archbasilica". Because it is the oldest public church in the city of Rome, it is the oldest and most important basilica of the Western world, houses the cathedra of the Roman bishop, it has the title of ecumenical mother church of the Catholic faithful; the current archpriest is Angelo De Donatis, Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome. The President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, is ex officio the "first and only honorary canon" of the archbasilica, a title that the heads of state of France have possessed since King Henry IV; the large Latin inscription on the façade reads: Clemens XII Pont Max Anno V Christo Salvatori In Hon SS Ioan Bapt et Evang.
This abbreviated inscription translates to: "Pope Clement XII, in the fifth year to Christ the Savior, in honor of Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist". The inscription indicates, with its full title, that the archbasilica was dedicated to Christ the Savior and, centuries co-dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist; as the Cathedral of the Pope as Bishop of Rome, it ranks superior to all other churches of the Roman Catholic Church, including St. Peter's Basilica; the archbasilica is sited in the City of Rome. It is outside Vatican City, 4 kilometres to its northwest, although the archbasilica and its adjoining edifices have extraterritorial status from Italy as one of the properties of the Holy See, pursuant to the Lateran Treaty of 1929; the archbasilica's Latin name is Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris ac Sancti Ioannis Baptistae et Ioannis Evangelistae ad Lateranum, which in English is the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist at the Lateran, in Italian Arcibasilica del Santissimo Salvatore e Santi Giovanni Battista ed Evangelista in Laterano.
The archbasilica stands over the remains of the Castra Nova equitum singularium, the "New Fort of the Roman imperial cavalry bodyguards". The fort was established by Septimius Severus in AD 193. Following the victory of Emperor Constantine I over Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, the guard was abolished and the fort demolished. Substantial remains of the fort lie directly beneath the nave; the remainder of the site was occupied during the early Roman Empire by the palace of the gens Laterani. Sextius Lateranus was the first plebeian to attain the rank of consul, the Laterani served as administrators for several emperors. One of the Laterani, Consul-designate Plautius Lateranus, became famous for being accused by Nero of conspiracy against the Emperor; the accusation resulted in the redistribution of his properties. The Lateran Palace fell into the hands of the Emperor when Constantine I married his second wife Fausta, sister of Maxentius. Known by that time as the "Domus Faustae" or "House of Fausta," the Lateran Palace was given to the Bishop of Rome by Constantine I.
The actual date of the donation is unknown, but scholars speculate that it was during the pontificate of Pope Miltiades, in time to host a synod of bishops in 313, convened to challenge the Donatist schism, declaring Donatism to be heresy. The palace basilica was converted and extended, becoming the residence of Pope St. Silvester I becoming the Cathedral of Rome, the seat of the Popes as the Bishops of Rome. Pope Sylvester I presided over the official dedication of the archbasilica and the adjacent Lateran Palace in 324, changing the name from "Domus Fausta" to "Domus Dei" with a dedication to Christ the Savior; when a cathedra became a symbol of episcopal authority, the papal cathedra was placed in its interior, rendering it the cathedral of the Pope as Bishop of Rome. When Gregory the Great sent the Gregorian mission to England under Augustine of Canterbury, some original churches in Canterbury took the Roman plan as a model, dedicating a church both to Christ as well as one to St. Paul, outside the walls of the city.
The church name "Christ Church" so common for churches around the world today in Anglophone Anglican contexts came from this Roman church, central to pre-medieval Christian identity. On the archbasilica's front wall between the main portals is a plaque inscribed with the words "Sacrosancta Lateranensis ecclesia omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput", which translate to "Most Holy Lateran Church and head of all the churches in the city and the world"; the archbasilica and Lateran Palace were re-dedicated twice. Pope Sergius III dedicated them to St. John the Baptist in the 10th century in honor of the newly consecrated baptistry of the archbasilica. Pope Lucius II dedicated them to John the Evangelist in the 12th century. Thus, St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist became co-patrons of the archbasilica, while the primary Patron is still Christ the Savior, as the inscription in the entrance indicates and as is traditional for patriarchal cathedrals; the archbasilica remains dedicated to the Savior, its titular feast is the Feast of