When you go to Rome, you have the opportunity to visit there the four major basilicas of the Catholic world. They are Saint John Lateran, the cathedral of the diocese of Rome; Saint Mary Major, the oldest and most important of all churches dedicated to the Mother of God; Saint Peter’s in the Vatican; and Saint Paul’s outside the Walls. All other basilicas throughout the world are called minor basilicas. Actually, Saint John Lateran bears the proper title of Christ our Savior, but early on, it was where most of the Catholics of Rome went to be baptized, and so the baptistry, a separate building behind the basilica, was given the name of Saint John the Baptist, and eventually that title replaced the proper title of the church, hence Saint John Lateran. Lateran refers to the Laterani family that gave the property on which the basilica now stands.
After his experience of Jesus on the way to Damascus, Paul gave his entire life to spreading the gospel of Jesus, and then, in due time, he gave his life in martyrdom during the persecution of the young Church by the emperor Nero in Rome. When we attend Mass or pray the Liturgy of the Hours, we are constantly encountering Saint Paul in his letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Colossians, Thessalonians, and to the individuals Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Saint Paul wrote more of the New Testament than any other of the sacred writers; we owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for sharing his knowledge and faith with us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown. O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.