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Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem

Ordo Equestris Sancti Sepulchri Hierosolymitani


Meditation of Edwin Cardinal O’Brien
Basilica of St. John Lateran

Saturday 14 September 2013


Our Handbook nicely spells out the history, the architecture and the treasures of this Basilica of St. John Lateran.  It was the wealthy Laterani family that donated their property to the Emperor Constantine who when he acknowledged the rights of the Roman Catholic Church, donated the property to the Bishop of Rome.  Since its dedication in 324 to the present it is the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, and Pope Francis took possession of this his Cathedral soon after his election.

And so we begin this day with the uplifting beauty of music and prayer on behalf of the Vicar of Christ and Successor of Peter – Francis, Bishop of Rome and Pope.

Throughout the centuries this Basilica of St. John Lateran has been known as the Mother and the most important church in Rome and all over the world.  (In italian on the original document: Nel corso dei secoli questa Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano è stata conosciuta come la Madre e la più importante delle chiese della città di Roma e di tutto il mondo).

All his life, the Pope has said, the one and only favor he asks of everyone who greets him, is Please pray for me.  And that is what we are here for:  to pray for the Bishop of Rome who serves the universal People of God in charity, and what a universal symbol of charity he is.  Pope Francis’ call for a poor Church serving the needs of the poor is nothing more than the call of Jesus to each of us in the Beatitudes:

“Blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn,
the weak, the merciful, the peacemakers”.

And Pope Francis not only calls us to this tender compassion in words but does so in deeds, in action, and has done so throughout his priesthood and episcopate. To the bishops of Brazil he said in July:

“We need a Church capable of rediscovering the maternal wound of mercy.  Without mercy we have little chance nowadays of becoming part of a world of wounded persons in need of understanding, forgiveness and love”.

May this church, as the Pope’s Cathedral, inspire all of us not only to pray for him, but even to imitate his compassion and spirit of forgiveness. (In Spanish on the original document: Que esta iglesia, que  la cathedral del Papa, nos inspire no solamente en rezar para el, sino tambien en imitar su compasión y su espiritu de perdón).

Yes, we pray for Pope Francis and for the peace he so convincingly advocates.  We pray that he continue his witness of understanding, forgiveness and love.  May our pilgrimage prayer be that we, each of us, take more deeply to heart his works and witness as we recommit our lives in service to the wounded Church both in the Holy Land and in our local churches.


Gran Magistero dell'O.E.S.S.G.(c)
00120 - Città del Vaticano
Tel. 39 - 06 - 6877347
Fax 39 - 06 - 6877632