268 IV. Ancient Rome. ROME. S. Giovanni in Laterano.
to have once ascended. They were brought to Rome in 326 by the
Empress Helena, and may only be ascended on the knees. They
are now covered with wood for the protection of the stone. The
two adjoining flights are for the descent. At the foot of the steps
are two groups in marble by Giacometti, Christ and Judas, and
Christ before Pontius Pilate. — At the top of the steps is the Sancta
Sanctorum chapel (not accessible), formerly the private chapel of
the popes, and the only part of the old Lateran palace now pre¬
served. It was erected in 1278 by a member of the Cosmas family
by order of Nicholas III., and contains, among other relics, a Christ
in mosaic in the style of the 9th cent., and another painted on
wood , attributed to St. Luke. — The portico towards the piazza
was erected by Sixtus V.
From the adjoining angle, to the left, the street diverges to the
Villa Wolkonsky (p. 275)/
To the E. of the last described piazza lies the spacious Piazza
di Porta S. Giovanni (PL 11, 33), towards which the principal fa¬
cade of S. Giovanni in Laterano is turned. In front of the church,
and to the right by the city-wall, a charming prospect is enjoyed of
the mountains and the Campagna.
To the left, by the Scala Santa, is a tribune erected by Bene¬
dict XIV. with copies of the ancient Mosaics from the Triclinium of
Leo III., or principal dining-room of the ancient palace. These co¬
pies are from old drawings. The originals, executed at the end of
the 8th cent., were destroyed in the pontificate of Clement XII.
Their subject is the union of spiritual and temporal power effected
by Charlemagne. In the centre, Christ sending out his disciples; on
the left, Christ enthroned delivers the keys to Pope Sylvester and
the banner to the Emp. Constantine ; on the right, St. Peter pre¬
senting the papal stole to Leo and the banner to Charlemagne. —
At the hack of the tribune a survey is obtained of the arches of
the Aqua Claudia (p. 246). An avenue leads hence in 5 min. to
S. Croce in Gerusalemme (p. 184).
The Porta S. Giovanni, named after the church, was erected in
1574, and took the place of the ancient and now closed Porta Asi-
naria, which stood a little to the right. Route hence to the Cam¬
pagna, see p. 347.
*S. Giovanni in Laterano (PL III, 30; comp. ground-plan),
'omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput', was the principal
church of Rome after the time of Constantine the Great. The em¬
peror presented to Pope Silvester a large palace, which had hitherto
belonged to the wealthy family of the Laterani, and fitted up a
church within it. It was called the Basilica Constantiniana after
its founder, and sometimes <S. Salvatoris, or Aula Dei, as being a
second Zion, and gradually became privileged to grant the most
ample indulgences. It was overthrown by an earthquake in 896,
but was re-erected by Sergius III. (904-911), and dedicated to