All four of the Papal Basilicas in the world are located in Rome. The Papal Basilicas include four of the most famous churches in the world – all of which are admired today for their architectural beauty as well as their artistic and religious elements.
Saint Peter’s Basilica
Many Catholics consider Saint Peter’s Basilica the faith’s most important church. One of the twelve apostles, St. Peter was close to Jesus Christ and following his death moved into the heart of Rome to spread the Christian faith. St. Peter was the first bishop or Rome as well as pope and was martyred during Nero’s reign. Saint Peter was buried with great secrecy and is now believed to be buried far from the main alter of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The current St. Peter’s Basilica is the second church built on its location. Construction began in the 16th century and was completed in the 17th century and is the product of many designs and ideas. Saint Peter’s Basilica is at the top of Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican City in Rome.
Basilica of Saint John Lateran
San Giovanni in Laterno is another name for the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. Saint John Lateran is the official cathedral of Rome and the true seat of the Pope as Bishop of Rome. The Basilica was built to honor two saints – Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. The church is known for it’s amazing baroque exterior which was completed during a massive renovation in the 18th century. The original church buildings were constructed in the 4th century but fell into disrepair before being revamped in the 18th century.
Inside Saint John Lateran, you’ll find statues of the Twelve Apostles and the Scala Sancta which includes portions of the stair case believed to be ascended by Jesus Christ during his sentencing prior to crucifixion. The Basilica of St. John Lateran is located on Piazza San Giovanni.
Basilica of Saint Mary Major
Located on the Esquiline Hill, Saint Mary Major is widely visited. The interior and powerful exterior mark the church as well as its importance as the major Papal Basilica dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Originally built in the 5th century, portions of the Basilica date back to the Council of Ephesus, which declared Mary as the mother of God.
Inside the Saint Mary Major, the mosaics in the central nave are a popular location as well as the Borghese and Sistine Chapel. The Saint Mary Major is particularly attractive at night with light spilling fromt the entrance and illuminating the finer elements of its exterior design. The Basilica of Saint Mary Major is located in the Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore.
Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
Outside of the Aurlian Walls, Emperor Constantine constructed a basilica on the supposed location of Saint Paul the Apostle. Saint Paul has been one of Jesus Christ’s closest disciples and was martyred during Emperor Nero’s reign in the mid-first century. Over the years, the Basilica was enlarged, updated and restored with interesting additions and redesigns. Today St. Paul’s is known for its mosaics, cloister, altars and frescos. The Basilica of Saint Paul is located on Via Ostiense.