This church contains 29 altars, besides the high altar. “Its area is 212,321 sq. ft., while that of the cathedral of Milan is 117,678, St. Paul’s at London 108,982, St. Sophia at Constantinople 96,497, and the Cathedral of Cologne 73,903 sq. ft.” The nave is 87 feet wide and 150 feet high, and the dome is 138 feet in diameter (5 feet less than that of the Pantheon) and some 450 feet high. One might fill a volume in describing its rich marble pavement, its 148 massive columns, its gilded chapels and ceiling, its fine sculpture, and the thousand and one objects in and about it that render it the most imposing as well as the largest church in the world. Imagine yourself in the middle of a church occupying over five acres, whose High Altar stands under a brass canopy 95 feet high, and weighing 93 tons, and whose Confessio is surrounded by 89 burning lamps! The total cost of the edifice is about $85,000,000. [It should always be remembered that labor has been twice to three times as cheap in Europe as it is now in this country]. “The expense of erecting this church was so heavy that Julius II. and Leo X. resorted to the sale of indulgences to raise the money, and this lead to the Reformation.”
is the church of the Pope as bishop of Rome, and here his coronation takes place. “It takes the precedence even of St. Peter, in ecclesiastical rank, being, as the inscription on its facade sets forth, ’c Ominum Urbis Et Urbis Ecclesiarum Mater Et Caput.’”
If St. Peter’s had not the advantage of a piazza that is unrivaled in magnificence, I think the lofty facade of the Lateran would present a view of more imposing grandeur, even, than that stately structure. The interior of this church is very beautiful. It must not be supposed that St. Peter’s has no rivals in beauty. Even in Rome it does not seem to stand alone. Of the 363 other churches in the great city of churches, there are numbers that vie with it in the beauty and perfection of some particular portions.
Santa Maria Maggiore.
“The Virgin appeared simultaneously to the devout Roman patrician Johannes and to Pope Liberius in their dreams, commanding them to erect a church to her on the spot where they should find a deposit of snow on the following morning (August 5th).” The Basilica Liberiana which was erected in obedience of this vision, was succeeded by a church named S. Maria Mater Dei (A.D. 432) and later by the present edifice. Almost every church in Rome has its legend. I have seen no other church that seemed so rich in gold, precious alabaster and many other kinds of beautiful and costly stones. Its panelled roof is gilt with the first gold brought to Spain from South America, and presented to the Pope by Ferdinand and Isabella.
Near S. Maria Maggiore is the church of
S. Antonio Abbate,
to which are brought the horses, mules, cows, etc., during the week following the feast of the saint (January 17-23). On the 23rd, the Pope and many persons of the higher classes send their horses here to be blessed and sprinkled with holy water.