The Pope said this Sunday during his Angelus address for the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, which was built following the Edict of Milan in 313.
'[T]oday's feast celebrates a mystery that is always relevant: God's desire to build a spiritual temple in the world, a community that worships him in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:23-24). But this observance also reminds us of the importance of the material buildings in which the community gathers to celebrate the praises of God,' the Holy Father explained.
The feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, which for some time was only celebrated in the city of Rome, was extended to the whole Church in the 16th century.
'The honoring of this sacred edifice was a way of expressing love and veneration for the Roman Church, which, as St. Ignatius of Antioch says, 'presides in charity' over the whole Catholic communion,' Benedict XVI said.
The material temple, the Pope noted, is important because it is an expression of that 'spiritual edifice,' which is the Christian community.
'The beauty and harmony of the churches, destined to give praise to God, also draws us human being, limited and sinful, to convert to form a 'cosmos,' a well-ordered structure, in intimate communion with Jesus, who is the true Saint of saints,' the Holy Father continued.
For this reason, he added, every community 'has the duty to take special care of its own sacred buildings, which are a precious religious and historical patrimony.' [Zenit]