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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.

Rome, Churches of

St. John Lateran

By Bessie Rayner Parkes (1829–1925)

OF temples built by mortal hands,

Give honor to the Lateran first;

’T was here the hope of many lands—

The infant Church was nursed:

And grew unto a great estate,

And waxed strong in grace and power,

With Christ for head and faithful mate,

And learning for her dower.

Since first this house to him was raised,

Three times five hundred years have run;

For this let Constantine be praised,

An English mother’s son!

He with his own imperial sword

Did dig foundations broad and deep,

That henceforth in his hand the Lord

Rome and her hills should keep.

In after ages, one by one,

Arose the altars vowed to Heaven;

Each crest is sacred now, but none

Like this of all the Seven!

Behold she stands! The Mother Church!

A queen among her countless peers!

Ah! open be that sacred porch

For thrice five hundred years!