The Vatican’s ‘cathedra’ is within the seven hills of Rome and is not in Vatican City

Lateran Cathedra (Photo by Joyce Thiel, January 2014)


Despite having its physical headquarters in Vatican City, the Church of Rome claims that its ‘spiritual authority’ derives from a chair, called the ‘cathedra,’ which is in nearby Rome.

St. John Lateran dates back to Rome’s emperor Constantine, who donated the building to the Bishop of Rome in the 4th century (allegedly because he was healed of leprosy by Bishop of Rome Miltiades). It claims the title of the “mother church of the world. It is sometimes referred to as the Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, as it ‘ranks’ above all other Roman Catholic basilicas and cathedrals. It was officially ‘consecrated’ on November 9, 324.

Although one might think that the very official chair or “cathedra” of Peter would be in St. Peter’s Basilica (and perhaps the large black one that has been called “Satan’s Throne,” especially because some believe a piece of a chair Peter once owned or sat on is in that chair and none are claimed for the one in the Lateran chair) and it would be the primary basilica for the Church of Rome, this is not the case.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

Saint John Lateran

The basilica

This is the oldest, and ranks first among the four great “patriarchal” basilicas of Rome…313. From that time onwards it was always the centre of Christian life within the city; the residence of the popes and the cathedral of Rome. The latter distinction it still holds, though it has long lost the former…The ancient apse, with mosaics of the fourth century, survived all the many changes and dangers of the Middle Ages, and was still to be seen very much in its original condition as late as 1878, when it was destroyed in order to provide a larger space for the ordinations and other pontifical functions which take place in this cathedral church of Rome. (Barnes, Arthur. “Saint John Lateran.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 21 Jul. 2012 <>)

Here is something that the Vatican put out about it, in Italian, that I had machine translated into English:

San Giovanni in LateranoÈ la chiesa più antica dell’Occidente, precede San Pietro di circa tredici anni; è rimasta per più di mille anni, fino al XIV sec., residenza papale; è la sede del vescovo di Roma. Qui Bonifacio VIII da dato solenne avvio al primo Giubileo della Storia, affacciandosi dalla loggia delle Benedizioni nel 1300, come ricorda un frammento di un affresco di Giotto conservato all’interno della basilica. Qui si tennero ben cinque Concili Ecumenici dal 1123 al 1512 e fino al XIX secolo vi si celebrava la cerimonia d’incoronazione del Papa. Per questo sui due lati dell’ingresso incontriamo la fierissima iscrizione: “Sacrosanta Chiesa madre e corpo di tutte le Chiese di Roma e del mondo”. Fu poi papa clemente VI nella bolla d’indizione per il secondo Giubileo (1350), ad indicare che per ottenere l’indulgenza giubilare, sarebbe stato necessario visitare, oltre alle due chiese principali di San Pietro e San Paolo, anche quella del Laterano

St. John Lateran

It is the oldest church in the West, by about thirteen years St. Peter’s; it remained for more than a thousand years, until the fourteenth century, papal residence; is the seat of the bishop of Rome. Here given by Boniface VIII solemnly inaugurated the first Jubilee of history, looking out from the balcony of the Blessings in 1300, as noted by a fragment of a fresco by Giotto in the Basilica preserved. Here are five ecumenical councils were held from 1123 to 1512 and until the nineteenth century there was celebrated the coronation of the Pope’s why the two sides of the fierce encounter the inscription: “Most Holy Mother Church and body of all the Churches Rome and the world. ” It was later Pope Clement VI in spirit call for the second Jubilee (1350), indicating that for the Jubilee indulgence, it was necessary to visit, in addition to the two main churches of St. Peter and St. Paul, including that of the Lateran.

The Basilica of St. John Lateran is within the old walls of ancient Rome. It is located near the edge of one of the ‘seven hills’ (cf. Revelation 17:9) of Rome, called the Coelian (Celio/Cælian) Hill (Coelio is one of the original seven hills, or seven mountains, of Rome; see Heiken G, Funiciello R, de Rita D. The Seven Hills of Rome: A Geological Tour of the Eternal City. Princeton University Press, 2013, reprint, p. 123).

Here is a report about the chair itself:

It is the throne of the Lateran, not the chair of Peter, in which the sovereign of the Western Church is installed, exhibiting on its ancient marble steps, curiously interwoven with figures of the lion, the adder, the dragon, and the basilisk, on which he treads as he mounts his seat, (Milman HH. History of Latin Christianity; The Quarterly Review, Volume 95, 1854, p. 59)

A basilisk is a legendary reptile reputed to be king of serpents and said to have the power to cause death with a single glance. Although I have seen this chair a few times, I have not been allowed to be close enough to see that detail. Perhaps, the next time I am there, I will have some type of binoculars or tele-zoom lens. When I saw a blow up of the photo, it shows a snake, dragon, and a perhaps a basilisk, so obviously these do not come from true Christian sources as those would not seem to be symbols that Christian leaders would want (cf. Revelation 13:11).

Here is a report from George Edmundson related to a chair that allegedly became part of the altar at St. John’s Lateran:

It is said that the house of Pudens (the elder Pudens mentioned by St. Paul) was during his stay in Rome the home of St. Peter. The sella gestaloria, or St. Peter’s chair, the oak framework of which is of great antiquity, is said to have been originally the senatorial chair of Pudens. (Edmundson G. The church in Rome in the first century: an examination of various controverted questions relating to its history, chronology, literature and traditions; eight lectures preached before the University of Oxford in the year 1913 on the foundation of the late Rev. John Bampton. Longmans, Green, 1913 Original from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Digitized March 14, 2008, p. 248)

It is unclear if any of the above is true, other than to say that there was a Pudens that the Apostle Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 4:21. But I will add that I have visited the ‘Pudentiana church’ in Rome and it is believed to be named after a female, who is claimed to be the daughter of Pudens, who in turn was claimed to be the son of Senator Quintus Cornelius Pudens (who was claimed to be a convert of Peter, which I doubt). The Basilica of Santa Pudenziana is claimed to have been built over a house in the second century A.D.

George Edmundson account continued with the following:

The wooden altar at the St. John Lateran again has been in continuous use there since the fourth century, when it was removed from St. Pudentiana, and that despite the fact that Pope Sylvester in 312 A.D. ordered that all altars should henceforth be of stone… When St. John Lateran replaced St. Pudentiana as the Cathedral Church of Rome the bishop and the altar moved there together. Edmundson, p. 248)

Rome clearly considers this building to be important.

Notice the inscription, that is shown in numerous places, on the outside of St. John’s Lateran church:

(Photo by Joyce Thiel)

The inscription from Latin above translated into English means, “Sacred Lateran Church Mother and Head of All Churches of the City and the World.” Notice the following warning against a worldly “mother” church associated with seven-hills:

1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. 5 And on her forehead a name was written:


6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement…

9 “Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. (Revelation 17:1-6, 9)

There seem to be many connections between Roman Catholicism and warnings in the Bible.

Now, having been to John’s Lateran several times, I can attest to it being within the seven hills of Rome.  So, despite the Vatican being outside of that ancient boundary, its most ancient basilica in the area is.

Interesting, perhaps it also should be mentioned that Vatican City is believed to have been named after a pagan goddess(Vatika) whose name also was associated with wine.

Even more connections with Revelation 17.

Items of possibly related interest may include:

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Europa, the Beast, and Revelation Where did Europe get its name? What might Europe have to do with the Book of Revelation? What about “the Beast”? Who is the king of the North?
Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? Is this the King of the North, the ten-horned beast of Revelation 13:1-11, or the two-horned Beast of Revelation 13:12-16? Some rely on traditions, but what does the Bible teach? Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Quién es el Hombre de Pecado de 2 Tesalonicenses 2? Here is a link to a related YouTube video, in English, titled Who is the Man of Sin?
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
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Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
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The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church.
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Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 in the first century to the 21st century. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

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