Today we honor the first official Catholic church, and with it we honor all our Catholic churches.
Emperor Constantine married one of Rome’s wealthiest women, and she brought him an immense dowry. Part of that dowry was one of Rome’s seven hills: the Lateran hill. Towering over Lateran Hill there stood a royal audience hall. As such, it was called a basilica, following on basilous, the Greek word for a king. The front wall featured a semi-circle alcove where the throne waited for its rightful occupier.
When Constantine became a Christian, he gave the Lateran Basilica to Pope Silvester as his own church, and down to the present it is seen as the pope’s personal church.
People love that reading from Ezekiel in which a stream bursts out from the temple’s east side giving life to trees and fish as it descends to where it turns the ocean into fresh water. We see that as a metaphor for the grace people take with them from church, carrying life for all with whom they come in contact.
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