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One of major Roman basilicas of the Catholic Church. They are St. John Lateran, which is the archbasilica for the Pope as Patriarch of the West; St. Peter's for the Patriarch of Constantinople; St. Paul's Outside the Walls for the Patriarch of Alexandria; and St. Mary Major's for the Patriarch of Antioch. Although St. Lawrence's, also Outside the Walls, is the patriarchal church for Jerusalem, it is not always considered major. Originally these basilicas had adjoining residences for the respective patriarchs when they stayed in Rome.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.