Feast of St. John Lateran Basilica

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Each of us has a parish church, but the whole Roman Catholic world shares one universal parish church: The Basilica of St. John the Baptist in Rome. This fourth century church is the cathedral of Rome, and so, the home church of the Bishop of Rome. Ours, too. Catholics who worship in bombed and burned-out ruins, Catholics who worship in gyms and cafeterias, as well as Catholics who worship in grand buildings, all share a single church they can call home.

Today is its birthday.

There are many stories connected with this basilica (a word which means, “a building for a king.”) Tradition says that the high altar is built over a simple wooden table on which the Apostle Peter celebrated the Eucharist with the Christian community in Rome. Tradition also holds that the church was dedicated on November 9, 324 making this is 1691st anniversary.

All Catholics share a single church they can call home.

That many candles sounds like a fire hazard, but consider making a cake today for the birthday of St. John Lateran and decorating it with one big candle. Or, you could buy the candles that are poured and shaped as single numerals: put a one, a six, an eight and a nine and a one on the cake and sing “Happy Birthday.”

Think about St. Peter’s plain, sturdy altar table and make a plain, sturdy (and delicious!) cake. This pound cake is an easy, one-bowl recipe. You’ll love this cake (and it’s so rich, you won’t need to frost it).

Combine in a 4-quart mixing bowl:

4 cups of all-purpose flour

3 cups of sugar

2 cups of softened butter

¾ cup of milk

6 large eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Beat at low speed for about one minute stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Then turn the mixer to medium speed and beat for two more minutes. Pour into a greased and floured ten-inch tube pan. Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for approximately 90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about ten minutes. After you remove it from the pan, let it cool about an hour more. (The cooling takes quite a bit longer than the mixing.)

– Melissa Musick