The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (Italian: Arcibasilica Papale di San Giovanni in Laterano), commonly known as St. John Lateran's Archbasilica, St. John Lateran's Basilica, and just The Lateran Basilica, is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope.
It is the oldest and ranks first among the four Papal Basilicas or major basilicas of Rome (having the cathedra of the Bishop of Rome). It claims the title of ecumenical mother church among Roman Catholics. The current archpriest is Agostino Vallini, Cardinal Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome. The President of the French Republic, currently François Hollande, is ex officio the "first and only honorary canon" of the basilica, a title held by the heads of the French state since King Henry IV of France.
The Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome are seven ancient and major churches in Rome, central to a religious pilgrimage to the city. The are listed in the following order in the guide by Franzini (1595) : San Giovanni Laterano, St Peter's, San Paolo fuori le mura, Santa Maria Maggiore, San Lorenzo fuori le mura, San Sebastiano, and Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. Rome has for centuries been a beacon for travelers. As the home of the Pope and the Catholic curia, as well as the locus of a many sites and relics of worship related to apostles, saints and Christian martyrs; Rome had long been a destination for pilgrims. Periodically, some were propelled to travel to Rome from the spiritual benefits, including indulgences accrued through a papally sanctioned Jubilee. These indulgences required a visit to specific churches..
The churches include the four patriarchal basilicas:
They also include three minor basilicas:
The last of these was added by Pope John Paul II for the Great Jubilee of 2000, replacing San Sebastiano fuori le mura. However, many pilgrims still prefer the pre-2000 seven basilicas and so also attend St. Sebastian's in addition to the ones required for the indulgence.
During Holy Years, indulgences are granted to those who visit certain churches. In Rome, there are seven such churches. This tradition is related to the work of St. Philip Neri, who devoted much of his time to helping pilgrims and introduced a list of seven basilicas.