8 - 11 minutes read10 Basilicas in the United States of America

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1) Basilica of St. Lawrence – Asheville, NC

The Minor Basilica of St. Lawrence the Deacon & Martyr is a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, United States. The church was designed and built in 1905 by Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino along with his fellow architect R. S. Smith and the Roman Catholic community of Asheville. Pope John Paul II elevated the status of the church to minor basilica in 1993. It is a parish church, located within the Diocese of Charlotte. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the only basilica in western North Carolina. Its dome has a span of 58 by 82 feet (18 by 25 m) and is reputed to be the largest, freestanding, elliptical dome in North America. Except for the foundation and brick walls, the architectural style is Catalan, with the main example being the stairs behind the altar. It is located in the Downtown Asheville Historic District.

2) Saint Anthony Cathedral Basilica – Beaumont, TX

St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica’s roots go back to 1853 when the Catholic Church sent priests on horseback to minister to the settlers around the port of Beaumont. In 1879, Bishop Jean-Marie Odin, C.M., first bishop of the Diocese of Galveston and Fr. Vital Quinon build St. Louis Church and established the first formal Catholic parish community in Beaumont. St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica is the direct successor to this small limited seating structure and parish community. In 1901, following the Lucas Oil Boom, Bishop Nicolaus Gallagher, third bishop of Galveston and Fr. William Lee built a new and larger church to take the place of the St. Louis parish church. Bishop Gallagher changed the name of St. Louis parish community to St. Anthony. The cornerstone of St. Anthony Church was blessed in 1903. In 1907 Bishop Gallagher dedicated the new brick church.

3) Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help – Boston, MA

In May 1869, Rev. James A. Healy, pastor of St. James’s Church in Boston, invited the Redemptorists to give a parish mission. Pleased with the success of the mission, Father Healy recommended to the Bishop that the religious order should establish a mission-house in Boston. That year Archbishop John J. Williams invited the Redemptorists to Boston. In September 1869 the Redemptorists acquired a site in Roxbury, then known as the Boston Highlands, on Parker Hill. Parker Hill was named for wealthy Boston merchant, John Parker, who occupied the summit of the hill during the eighteenth century. The five acre estate was known as Brinley Place, and included a grand house, Datchet House built in 1723 by prominent English officer Colonel Francis Brinley in memory of his ancestral home.  Colonel Brinley died in 1765. Wealthy merchant Robert Pierpont purchased the house in 1773. Pierpont enlarged and enriched the house to such a degree that it became known as “Pierpont’s Castle”.

The Redemptorists built a modest wooden church on the location in 1870. This was to serve as a “mission house”, a home base for priests traveling to distant parts of Massachusetts, Canada, and elsewhere. The church was dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The first mass was said on January 29, 1871. The original structure was located on the site where the rectory now stands.

4) Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, Chicago, IL

Founded in 1874, it has been administered by the Servite fathers for its entire history. Ground was broken for the current building on June 17, 1890 and the church was dedicated on January 5, 1902. The Parish served an Irish and Italian congregation for many years. The sorrowful mother novena was a major devotion at the parish during the first half of the 20th century, drawing worshippers from across the country and reaching many more listeners by radio. The church also houses the National Shrine of St. Peregrine, the patron of those suffering from cancer. In the 1960s and 1970s the parish became predominantly African-American.  The Basilica was used for a brief scene in the 1987 film The Untouchables in which Sean Connery’s character explains “The Chicago Way” to Kevin Costner’s character.



5) Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption – Covington, KY

Construction of the cathedral began under the Diocese of Covington’s third bishop, Camillus Paul Maes, in 1895 to replace an 1834 frame church that was inadequate for the growing congregation. Pope Pius XII elevated the cathedral to the rank of minor basilica December 8, 1953.

View of the window, said to be the world’s largest handmade stained glass window in a church

6) Basilica of St. Francis Xavier – Dyersville, IA

The church was named in honor of the missionary Saint Francis Xavier. It was raised to the status of a Minor Basilica in 1956. The church and rectory were listed together on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

Dyersville was originally settled by English immigrants. Within a few years the English moved on, and many German immigrants began to arrive in the area. A parish was founded to serve these immigrants in 1859. The first St. Francis Xavier Church was completed in 1862. The parish grew quickly and the church had to be doubled in size by 1869. By 1880, it became clear that with the increasing Catholic population of Dyersville and the surrounding area, the old church building would no longer be adequate.

A new church building program was begun in the mid-1880s. The parish decided on a large Gothic Revival style building in order to serve the increased population. Dubuque architects Fridolin Heer, Sr. and his son Fridolin Heer, Jr. designed the church. The priest at the time, Anton Kortenkamp (1834-1889), also had the foresight to have the altar placed upon a foundation of solid rock, which is one of the requirements for an altar to be consecrated. Construction was begun in 1887, and the cornerstone was laid on June 3, 1888. The new church was dedicated by Bishop John Hennessy on December 3, 1889. When the building was dedicated, special trains brought people from all over the state of Iowa to witness the ceremony. It cost approximately $100,000 dollars to build the church. After the completion of the present building, the old church was converted into classrooms. It was later torn down after a new school was completed. Electric lights were added to the church in 1904.

The interior of the church is decorated with a number of paintings and frescoes. Much of this work was done by Milwaukee artists Alphonse Brielmaier and his sister Lottie from 1904 to 1905. Work to either touch-up the original frescoes or to partially cover some of them was done in 1930 and 1955.

The rectory was built to the west of the church in 1935. The 68-by-66-foot (21 by 20 m) brick residence contains 14 rooms.[3] The rooms are a combination of private living space and offices. A. J. Osterhaus Construction of Dyersville was the contractor who built the rectory. A garage and a passageway connects it to the Basilica.

7) Basilica of the Immaculate Conception – Jacksonville, FL

A parish church in the Diocese of St. Augustine, it represents Jacksonville’s oldest Catholic congregation. The current building, dating to 1910, was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1992 as the Church of the Immaculate Conception, and was named a minor basilica in 2013. It is located at 121 East Duval Street; its current pastor is Very Reverend Blair Gaynes.

The congregation was established in about 1845 as a mission of the Catholic parish of Savannah in Georgia, and the first church building was constructed by 1847. Immaculate Conception was designated its own parish in 1854, but the original building was destroyed by Union forces during the American Civil War. A second building was planned shortly after Jacksonville became part of the newly created Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine in 1870, and was completed in 1874. This was destroyed along with most of downtown Jacksonville in the Great Fire of 1901.

The current building was designed in 1905 by architect M. H. Hubbard, also the designer of Bethel Baptist Institutional Church. Construction began in 1907 and completed on December 8, 1910, when the building was dedicated. The structure is an example of Late Gothic Revival architecture, considered one of the best such examples in Florida, featuring a cruciform floor plan, pointed arches, tracery on the windows, buttresses and pinnacles, high spires, and a high vault on the interior. The building’s 178.5-foot (54.4 m) steeple, topped by a gold-plated cross, was the highest point in the city for three years until the Heard National Bank Building was finished in 1913

8) Our Lady of Victory Basilica – Lackawanna, New York

In 1916, fire seriously damaged St. Patrick’s Parish Church in Lackawanna, New York. Repairs were made, but Father Baker, superintendent priest of the busy parish developed plans to replace the church. On May 7, 1921, Father Baker celebrated the last Mass at St. Patrick’s.

The structure was immediately dismantled to make way for something larger. Construction on the Basilica began in 1921 after Father Baker unveiled plans at a parish council meeting to build a shrine in homage to the Blessed Mother. Because of Baker’s influence in the community and well-known charitable reputation across the nation, he was able to get sufficient financial support to begin construction quickly. Baker solicited support for his project, and thousands from across the nation contributed funding both large and small, mostly through a direct-mail fundraising club. Designed by Emile Ulrich, the basilica was constructed at a cost of $3.2 million, but the project was completed without the parish incurring any debt.

By late 1925, construction on the sanctuary of Our Lady of Victory was complete, and the first mass was held there on Christmas of that year. On May 25, 1926, a consecration ceremony took place presided over by Father Baker, Bishop William Turner of the Diocese of Buffalo, and Cardinal Patrick Hayes. Thousands of priests, nuns, and believers from across the nation attended the event. Two months later, Pope Pius XI designated the shrine the honorable title of “Minor Basilica” via an apostolic decree. Baker was in charge of the Basilica and the parish’s various institutions of charity until his death on July 29, 1936.

The Basilica has had only two significant changes to its original design. The first came in 1941 during a violent lightning storm that caused significant damage to the basilica’s twin towers (a style associated with Portuguese churches).

9) Basilica of St. Josaphat – of Milwaukee, WI

In its grandeur and opulence it is an excellent example of the so-called Polish Cathedral style of church architecture found in the Great Lakes region of North America. Modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

St. Josaphat’s congregation was founded in 1888 by immigrant Poles on Milwaukee’s (then) far south side. In 1896, when the parish church proved to be too small, Pastor Wilhelm Grutza commissioned a prominent church architect of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Erhard Brielmaier. Like a number of other Polish churches in the so-called Polish Cathedral style, such as St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago or Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pittsburgh, the architectural plans for the new edifice were intentionally modeled on St. Peter’s Basilica.

As the design neared completion, Father Grutza learned that the U.S. Post Office and Customs House in Chicago was being razed. He purchased the 200,000 tons of salvage material for $20,000 and had it delivered to Milwaukee on 500 railroad flatcars, where parishioners were waiting to begin construction.

The Basilica was formally dedicated in 1901 by Archbishop Francis Xavier Katzer with 4,000 people in attendance. Once completed, it met the requirements of Milwaukee’s growing Polish Catholic population by seating 2,400 members and was the city’s largest church. Artist Tadeusz Żukotyński painted the first painting in the church, The Martyrdom of St. Josaphat, in 1904.

Decoration on the interior was completed in 1926 by artists Conrad Schmitt and Gonippo Raggi. Detailed oil paintings depicting biblical scenes adorned the walls and inner dome, while ornamental plasterwork finished in gold leaf set the columns, and ornate stained glass covered the windows.

In 1929, Pope Pius XI designated St. Josaphat Church as the third minor basilica in the United States, marking it as a place of pilgrimage, special devotion, and historical significance.

10) Basilica of the Immaculate Conception – Waterbury, Connecticut

The parish traces its roots to November 1, 1847 when a group of Catholics in the area, under the leadership of pastor Father Michael O’Neil, purchased a former Episcopal church and dedicated the parish to St. Peter. The group previously rented Washington Hall at West Main Street and Exchange Place.

On July 5, 1857, the parish laid the cornerstone for a new church to be dedicated to the newly promulgated dogma of the Immaculate Conception. After it opened, the old church became St. Mary’s school in 1863.

Ground was broken for the current church in 1924 and it was dedicated May 20, 1928. It was designed by the Boston firm of Maginnis & Walsh and cost US$1.25 million to construct. Its Italian Renaissance design is based on the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome

On February 9, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the title of Minor Basilica on the church


Thanks to Wikipedia for the info

2 thoughts on “10 Basilicas in the United States of America

  1. This is not all correct and having a hard time believing all the content. Santa Fe, NM has a basilica and it is not mentioned.

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