The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (10 March)


March 10 – Honoring the Forty Holy Martyrs of Sebaste, Armenia (+320) – Their names are: Acacius, Aetius, Aglaius, Alexander, Angus, Athanasius, Candidus, Chudion, Claudius, Cyril, Cyrion, Dometian, Domnus, Ecdicius, Elias, Eunoicus, Eutyches, Eutychius, Flavius, Gaius, Gorgonius, Helianus, Herachus, Hesychius, John, Lysimachus, Meliton, Nicholas, Philoctemon, Priscus, Sacerdon, Severian, Sisinius, Smaragdus, Theodulus, Theophilus, VaIens, Valerius, Vivianus, and Xanthias.

The Breviary of St Pius V represents the martyrs praying as their sufferings began, “Forty we have entered into the stadium, let us receive forty crowns, o Lord, lest even one be lacking from this number. This number is held in honor. You adorned it with a fast of forty days; through it the divine Law entered into the world. Elijah, seeking God, obtained the vision of Him by a fast of forty days.”

Fr Alban Butler

Feast: March 10

From St. Basil’s Homily on their festival, Hom. 20, t. 1, p. 453, and three discourses of St. Gregory of Nyssa, t. 2, p. 203, t. 3, pp. 499, 504, followed by St. Ephrem. ed. Vatic. Gr. and Lat. t. 2, p. 341. St. Gaudentius, St. Chrysostom, quoted by Photius. See Tillemont, t. 5, p. 518. Ruinart, p. 523. Ceillier, t. 4, 162 Jos. Assemani in Cal. Univ. ad 11 Martii, t. 6, p. 172.

These holy martyrs suffered at Sebaste, in the Lesser Armenia, under the Emperor Licinius, in 320. They were of different countries, but enrolled in the same troop; all in the flower of their age, comely, brave, and robust, and were become considerable for their services. St. Gregory of Nyssa and Procopius say they were of the Thundering Legion, so famous under Marcus Aurelius for the miraculous rain and victory obtained by their prayers. This was the twelfth legion, and then quartered in Armenia. Lysias was duke or general of the forces, and Agricola the governor of the province. The latter having signified to the army the orders of the emperor Licinius for all to sacrifice, these forty went boldly up to him, and said they were Christians, and that no torments should make them ever abandon their holy religion. The judge first endeavoured to gain them by mild usage; as by representing to them the dishonour that would attend their refusal to do what was required, and by making them large promises of preferment and high favour with the emperor in case of compliance. Finding these methods of gentleness ineffectual, he had recourse to threats, and these the most terrifying, if they continued disobedient to the emperor’s order, but all in vain. To his promises they answered that he could give them nothing equal to what he would deprive them of; and to his threats, that his power only extended over their bodies which they had learned to despise when their souls were at stake. The governor, finding them all resolute, caused them to be torn with whips, and their sides to be rent with iron hooks; after which they were loaded with chains, and committed to jail.

After some days, Lysias, their general, coming from Caesarea to Sebaste, they were re-examined, and no less generously rejected the large promises made them than they despised the torments they were threatened with. The governor, highly offended at their courage, and that liberty of speech with which they accosted him, devised an extraordinary kind of death, which, being slow and severe, he hoped would shake their constancy. The cold in Armenia is very sharp, especially in March, and towards the end of winter, when the wind is north, as it then was, it being also at that time a severe frost. Under the walls of the town stood a pond, which was frozen so hard that it would bear walking upon with safety. The judge ordered the saints to be exposed quite naked on the ice;[1] and in order to tempt them the more powerfully to renounce their faith, a warm bath was prepared at a small distance from the frozen pond, for any of this company to go to who were disposed to purchase their temporal ease and safety on that condition. The martyrs, on hearing their sentence, ran joyfully to the place, and without waiting to be stripped, undressed themselves, encouraging one another in the same manner as is usual among soldiers in military expeditions attended with hardships and dangers, saying that one bad night would purchase them a happy eternity.[2] They also made this their joint prayer: “Lord, we are forty who arc engaged in this combat; grant that we may be forty crowned, and that not one be wanting to this sacred number.” The guards in the mean time ceased not to persuade them to sacrifice, that by so doing they might be allowed to pass to the warm bath. But though it is not easy to form a just idea of the bitter pain they must have undergone, of the whole number only one had the misfortune to be overcome; who, losing courage, went off from the pond to seek the relief in readiness for such as were disposed to renounce their faith; but as the devil usually deceives his adorers, the apostate no sooner entered the warm water but he expired. This misfortune afflicted the martyrs; but they were quickly comforted by seeing his place and their number miraculously filled up. A sentinel was warming himself near the bath, having been posted there to observe if any of the martyrs were inclined to submit. While he was attending, he had a vision of blessed spirits descending from heaven on the martyrs, and distributing, as from their king, rich presents and precious garments; St. Ephrem adds crowns to all these generous soldiers, one only excepted, who was their faint-hearted companion already mentioned. The guard, being struck with the celestial vision and the apostate’s desertion, was converted upon it; and by a particular motion of the Holy Ghost, threw off his clothes, and placed himself in his stead amongst the thirty-nine martyrs. Thus God heard their request, though in another manner than they imagined: “Which ought to make us adore the impenetrable secrets of his mercy and justice,” says St. Ephrem, “in this instance, no less than in the reprobation of Judas and the election of St. Matthias.”

In the morning the judge ordered both those that were dead with the cold, and those that were still alive, to be laid on carriages, and cast into a fire. When the rest were thrown into a waggon to be carried to the pile, the youngest of them (whom the acts call Melito) was found alive; and the executioners, hoping he would change his resolution when he came to himself, left him behind. His mother, a woman of mean condition, and a widow, but rich in faith and worthy to have a son a martyr, observing this false compassion, reproached the executioners; and when she came up to her son, whom she found quite frozen, not able to stir, and scarce breathing, he looked on her with languishing eyes, and made a little sign with his weak hand to comfort her. She exhorted him to persevere to the end, and, fortified by the Holy Ghost, took him up, and put him with her own hands into the waggon with the rest of the martyrs, not only without shedding a tear, but with a countenance full of joy, saying courageously: “Go, go, son, proceed to the end of this happy journey with thy companions, that thou mayest not be the last of them that shall present themselves before God.” Nothing can be more inflamed or more pathetic than the discourse which St. Ephrem puts into her mouth, by which he expresses her contempt of life and all earthly things, and her ardent love and desire of eternal life. This holy father earnestly entreats her to conjure this whole troop of martyrs to join in imploring the divine mercy in favour of his sinful soul.[3] Their bodies were burned, and their ashes thrown into the river; but the Christians secretly carried off or purchased part of them with money. Some of these precious relics were kept in Caesarea, and St. Basil says of them: “Like bulwarks, they are our protection against the inroads of enemies.”[4] He adds that every one implored their succour, and that they raised up those that had fallen, strengthened the weak, and invigorated the fervour of the saints. SS Basil and Emmelia, the holy parents of St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Peter of Sebaste, and St. Macrina, procured a great share of these relics.[5] St. Emmelia put some of them in the church she built near Anneses, the village where they resided. The solemnity with which they were received was extraordinary, and they were honoured by miracles, as St. Gregory relates. One of these was a miraculous cure wrought on a lame soldier, the truth of which he attests from his own knowledge, both of the fact and the person who published it everywhere. He adds: “I buried the bodies of my parents by the relics of these holy martyrs, that in the resurrection they may rise with the encouragers of their faith; for I know they have great power with God, of which I have seen clear proofs and undoubted testimonies.” St. Gaudentius, bishop of Brescia, writes in his sermon on these martyrs: “God gave me a share of these venerable relics, and granted me to found this church in their honor.”[6] He says, that the two nieces of St. Basil, both abbesses, gave them to him as he passed by Caesarea, in a journey to Jerusalem; which venerable treasure they had received from their uncle. Portions of their relics were also carried to Constantinople, and there honored with great veneration, as Sozomen[7] and Procopius[8] have recorded at large, with an account of several visions and miracles, which attended the veneration paid to them in that city.

Though we are not all called to the trial of martyrdom, we are all bound daily to fight, and to conquer too. By multiplied victories which we gain over our passions and spiritual enemies, by the exercise of meekness, patience, humility, purity, and all other virtues, we shall render our triumph complete, and attain to the crown of bliss. But are we not confounded at our sloth in our spiritual warfare when we look on the conflicts of the martyrs? “The eloquence of the greatest orators, and the wisdom of the philosophers were struck dumb: the very tyrants and judges stood amazed and were not able to find words to express their admiration, when they beheld the faith, the cheerfulness and constancy of the holy martyrs in their sufferings. But what excuse shall we allege in the tremendous judgment, who, without meeting with such cruel persecution and torments, are so remiss and slothful in maintaining the spiritual life of our souls, and the charity of God! What shall we do in that terrible day when the holy martyrs, placed near the throne of God, with great confidence shall display their glorious scars, the proofs of their fidelity? What shall we then show? shall we produce our love for God? true faith? a disengagement of our affections from earthly things? souls freed from the tyranny of the passions? retirement and peace of mind? meekness? alms-deeds and compassion? holy and pure prayer? sincere compunction? watching and tears? Happy shall he be whom these works shall attend. He shall then be the companion of the martyrs, and shall appear with the same confidence before Christ and his angels. We beseech you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered torments and death for his love, and are now more familiarly united to him, that you intercede with God for us slothful and wretched sinners, that he bestow on us the grace of Christ, by which we may be enlightened and enabled to love him.”[9]


1- The acts, and the greater part of the writers of their lives, suppose they were to stand in the very water. But this is a circumstance which Tillemont, Baillie, Ruinart, Ceillier, and others correct from St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nyssa.
2- St. Gregory of Nyssa says that they endured three days and three nights this lingering death, which carried off their limbs one after another.
3- St. Ephrem, Or. in 40 Mart. t. 2, Op. Gr. and Lat. 54, ed. Nov. Vatic. an. 1743.
4- 2 St. Basil,, Or. 20, p. 459.
5- St. Greg. Nyss. Or. 3, de 40 Mart. t. 2, pp. 212, 213.
6- S. Gaud. Brix. Serm. 17, de 40 Mart.
7- L. 9, c. 1, 2.
8- L. 1, de aedific, Justinian, c. 7.
9- S. Ephrem Homil. in SS. Martyres, Op. Gr. and Lat. ed. Vat. an. 1743, t. 2, p. 341.
(Taken from Vol. III of “The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints” by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company)

Sermon by St. Basil the Great

Bounteous benevolence, unsquandered grace, ready help for Christian, a church of martyrs, an army of trophy-bearers, a chorus of those giving praise.  How much effort would you expand in order to find one who would importune the Lord on your behalf? They were forty, sending up a unanimous prayer.  Where there are two or three gathered together in the name of the Lord, there He is in the midst of them. But where there are forty, who doubts the presence of God? The one who is in trouble takes refuge in the forty, the one who rejoices hastens to them – the former to find release from difficulties, the latter to protect his prosperity.  Here a pious woman is found praying for her children, begging for the return of her husband who is away, for his safety because he is sick.  Let your petitions be with the martyrs.  Let boys imitate those of their own age; let fathers pray to be fathers of such children; let mothers learn the story of a good mother.

Oh holy chorus! O hallowed battalion, O unbroken fighting order! O common guards of the human race! Good companions in time of anxiety, helpers in prayers, most powerful ambassadors, stars of the world, flowers of the churches.  The earth does not hide you; instead, heaven accepts you.  The gates of paradise have opened for you.  The sight is worthy of the army of angels, worthy of patriarchs, prophets, the just. Men in the very flower of youth, despising life, loving the Lord above parents, above children.  Having the vitality of their age, they looked down on the temporary life in order to glorify God with their limbs.  Becoming a spectacle for the world and for angels and for human beings, they raised the fallen, they strengthened the ambivalent, they doubled the desire of the pious.  All of them raised the one trophy on behalf of piety and were crowned with the one crown of justice too, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.


Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

In the time of Constantine the Great, the city of Sebaste was witness of a magnificent spectacle of Christian heroism, in the forty soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the Faith of Christ. Licinius, to whom Constantine had entrusted the government of a portion of the empire, was at first very friendly to the Christians, but afterwards played the part of a cruel tyrant towards them. He issued an edict to all the prefects to force the Christians to adore the pagan gods, and, in case of their refusal, to condemn them to death. Agricola, Governor of Armenia, published the imperial mandate and summoned the Christians before, him. The first to answer this summons were forty brave soldiers of the garrison of Sebaste. They openly proclaimed themselves followers of Christ and ready to suffer tortures, and even death, rather than deny their faith. Lysias, their general, endeavored by praising their former bravery, by promising them imperial favors and rewards, and finally by threatening them with an ignominious death, to turn them from their holy purpose of remaining disciples of the Crucified. The Christian heroes, however, fearlessly declared, that in a case where the honor of the King of kings and their own eternal welfare were at stake, they disregarded promises and threats, and scorned the favor or displeasure of the Emperor.

The Governor, provoked to anger, ordered the holy confessors to be bound with chains and cast into dungeons. He called them again and again before his tribunal, but, finding them always firm in their faith, inflicted cruel tortures on them and sent them back, to prison. During their confinement, they exhorted each other to perseverance with these words: “We have borne so many hardships, so often exposed our lives in the service of an earthly sovereign, and in defence of our country: shall we do less for the King of Heaven and in behalf of our own souls?” In this manner they encouraged each other, and begged of the Lord that He would strengthen them in their impending martyrdom. They employed a portion of their time in singing the Divine Praises. Our Saviour did not fail to assist and console His servants. In a vision, He addressed them in these terms: “The beginning is good, but he only who perseveres to the end will be saved.” Shortly after this, sentence was pronounced on the forty martyrs, and immediately carried out.

They were first struck on the mouth with stones, and at nightfall conducted, in the middle of winter, to a frozen lake. They were condemned to sit there, naked, until death should put an end to their sufferings. There was also a hot bath in readiness, at a neighboring house, for those who should chance to go over to the service of the idols.

As soon as the Christian soldiers reached the lake, they took off their clothes and went out on the ice. Here they continued their praises of God, earnestly asking for the Divine assistance. “We are forty going on the ice,” said they, “grant, O merciful Lord, that forty also may be crowned, and that none lose his crown. It is a favored number, which Thou hast ennobled by Thy holy fast. Elias sought and found God by a fast of forty, days.” Near the martyrs were stationed the guards to watch that no one should escape. Some hours had already passed; the heroes still persevered in glorifying God by their chants, and continued to offer supplications to the throne of the Most High: the guards, however, had fallen asleep: the prison-keeper alone was watching. He suddenly beheld the martyrs environed by a shining light, and angels descending from heaven with magnificent crowns in their hands, which they placed on the heads of the soldiers. He remarked, however, that only thirty-nine were crowned. He said to himself: “There are forty Christians on the lake; where is the crown of the other one?” The mystery was soon solved. One of the number, unable to endure the cold any longer, had crawled to the bath, and by this act, denied his faith.

But God did not suffer this inconstancy to go unpunished, for the wretch died soon after entering the bath, losing his life and precipitating himself into the flames of hell; thus, by seeking to escape short sufferings, he also forfeited the heavenly reward due to perseverance. The thirty-nine were much grieved at this desertion, but they were gladdened by seeing the prison-keeper himself filling up their number again. For, reflecting on what he had just witnessed, he concluded that the faith of the Christians must be the only true one. Awaking the guards, he related to them his vision, and cried out, in a loud voice: “I also am a Christian, and will live and die with the Christians.” He stripped off his garments, and, joining the martyrs on the, lake, begged them to petition the Lord to bestow a similar crown on him. Their prayer was heard, for an angel came down from heaven with the crown.

At the break of day, everything that had occurred in the night was reported to the Governor. He immediately ordered the forty martyrs to be drawn out of the lake, their limbs to be broken with clubs, and the bodies to be thrown into the fire. The icy water had deprived all of life, with the exception of one, who, being younger, was possessed of greater power of endurance. The name of this one was Melitho. His mother, seeing him still alive, said to him: “Persevere only a little longer, my child; Jesus is standing at the gate of heaven, hastening to your assistance.” In the mean while, the bodies of the other confessors had been thrown into a cart and were carried to the burning pile. The mother, perceiving that her son was left behind, in the hope of bringing him over to the worship of the idols, took him on her shoulders, in order to place him on the cart or on the pile. Whilst carrying him, she encouraged and exhorted him to persevere by considerations on the shortness of life and the eternity of the reward. The courageous youth, whilst listening to the words of his mother, gave up the ghost. The pious mother, however, completed her task, and laid the corpse with those of the other martyrs, that he might be united, even in death, with his companions. Saint Basil, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, and many other holy fathers, delivered sermons, full of instruction and unction, on these holy martyrs.


Martyrdom of St Anne Line (27 February 1601)

“I have been condemned for granting hospitality to a Catholic priest; yet I am so far from repenting that I would like to have hosted a thousand of them, instead of just one.”

On Candlemas, February 2, 1601, Jesuit priest, Father Francis Page, was celebrating Mass for the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple at the safe house in London run by Anne Line.

Father John Gerard, SJ, author of the memoir Autobiography of a Hunted Priest had asked the widowed Catholic convert to be the housekeeper for the Catholic priests staying in London. On that day, the safe house proved to be none too safe, as pursuivants entered the house as Mass was in progress. Father Page was able to discard his vestments and mingle with the congregation, but Anne Line was not able to escape.
Since she was the keeper of the house, and the pursuivants had found an altar, vestments, and all the altar vessels for the celebration of Catholic Mass, Anne Line was arrested.
She was held and tried and executed for harboring and assisting priests on February 27, 1601. One of the priests executed that day after her at Tyburn, Blessed Roger Filcock, had once been a guest in the safe house. Father Francis Page was eventually captured and executed on April 20, 1602. St. Anne Line is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970–she shares a separate feast with St. Margaret Clitherow and St. Margaret Ward. Blessed Roger Filcock (and his companion on the way to Tyburn, Blessed Mark Barkworth) were beatified by Blessed John Paul II in 1987 among the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales, and Blessed Francis Page was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929, among 136 martyrs of England and Wales.


† London, England, 27 February 1601

Canonized on October 25, 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

The second daughter of William (or John) Heigham and Anna Alien, Anna was born in Dunmow, Essex. Converted to Catholicism together with her brother William, she was with this disinherited and driven out of the house by her father, a proud Calvinist, who had unnecessarily also tried to make her apostate. Shortly thereafter Anne married Ruggero Line, also a converted Catholic, who had suffered the same fate for the faith as his wife. But she soon remained alone and without resources because her husband, arrested in 1586, while listening to the S. Mass, and sentenced to life imprisonment, then changed into perpetual exile, went to settle in Flanders, where he still lived eight years poorly, perceiving a small pension granted to him by the King of Spain and of which he sent part to his wife in London. Widowed in 1594 and very run down in health, Anna found herself more afflicted than ever by need, having to trust only divine Providence for her livelihood. When in 1595 the Jesuit John Gerard established in London a house of shelter for priests who came new to the city, or who already exercised the ministry there, Anna was called to govern and administer it, a task that she carried out day by day with the affection of a mother and the devotion of a handmaid, until she fell on suspicion of the persecutors, especially after gerard’s escape from the tower prisons in 1597. Forced to change residence, she went to live in a very secluded house, where nevertheless, for the delination of a neighbor, she was captured on 2 Febb. 1601 by a handful of gunmen and locked up in Newgate prisons. Dragged shortly afterwards to court, where it was necessary to lead her to a chair, so serious were her health conditions, she was tried by Judge Popham, on charges of giving refuge and assistance to missionary priests. Found guilty of the offence by a complacent jury, she was sentenced to death, and executed at Tyburn on 27 Feb. 1601, together with the Jesuit Roger Filcock, his confessor and friend, and the Benedictine Marco Barkworth. Before turning his head to the master, he declared aloud to the surrounding crowd: “I have been condemned for granting hospitality to a Catholic priest; yet I am so far from repenting that I would like to have hosted a thousand of them, instead of just one.” Raised by Pius XI to the honor of the altars, on 15 Dec. 1929 Blessed Anna is commemorated on February 27.

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10 Basilicas in Argentina

There are 43 total Basilicas in Argentina.  I’m just picking 10 to show

1) Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, Buenos Aires

White Basílica Nuestra Señora del Pilar, the key structure of the former Franciscan convent in Recoleta, belongs among the most beautiful examples of colonial Baroque architecture in Argentina.

Photo from 1864

The church was built together with convent of reformed Fransciscan order (so called Recollets or Recoletos) thanks to activity and sponsosrhip of Captain Pedro Bustinza and merchant Juan de Narbonne. The church was dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar in remembrance and tribute to Narbonne’ hometown, Zaragoza, where is famous basilica bearing the same name. The convent buldings were built the first, between 1715-1721, the church itself with 30 m high main belfry – work of architects Andrés Blanqui and Bautista Prímoli – was finished in 1732. The Franciscan bishop of Asuncion (Paraguay) consecrated the church on May 30, 1734.

2) Basilica of Our Lady of Luján – Luján, Buenos Aires

Built in Neogothic style, it is dedicated to Our Lady of Luján, patron saint of Argentina.

Many people mistake this temple for a cathedral. Actually, it is part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mercedes-Luján, whose see is located at the Cathedral Basilica of Mercedes-Luján in the neighboring city of Mercedes.

Approximately six million people visit the shrine each year, many of them coming during four major pilgrimage periods. One of these, the Peregrinación de los Gauchos (Gaucho´s Pilgrimage), takes place on the last Sunday of September and is considered to be one of the most picturesque cultural events in Argentina. Gauchos are the cowboys of Argentina’s vast grasslands and during the pilgrimage it is common to see their horses waiting outside of the church. A week or so later, on the first Sunday in October, is the Peregrinación de los Jóvenes (Pilgrimage of the Young), when around a million youths walk the whole 68 kilometers from Buenos Aires to the Basilica in a display of faith and gratefulness. The feast days of Nuestra Señora de Luján are celebrated on May 8 and December 8, and during these times nautical pilgrimages take place in the Luján River, with statues of the Virgin aboard a boat.  For more on this please visit here

3) Cathedral Basilica of SS Peter and Cecilia aka Mar del Plata Cathedral

Built in Neogothic style, it is dedicated to St. Peter the Apostle and St. Cecilia.

Declared a Minor Basilica by Pius XI in 1924, upon the creation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mar del Plata in 1957 it became its Cathedral church

4) Catedral Basílica de Mercedes-Luján

Built in 1904 in Gothic Revival style. It contains the remains of Don Saturnino Unzué and Doña Inés Unzué Dorrego, its main benefactors. On 15 April 2010, the building was declared a National Historic Landmark under Decree 492/2010.

This cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy. It should not be confused with the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján, a much bigger and famous temple which is located in the same diocese.

5) Cathedral of Salta

It was necessary to build a new cathedral in 1856, after an earthquake destroyed the old building. Services began in 1858 under the patronage of Archbishop José Eusebio Colombres. Felipe Bertrés was the architect. The project was completed in 1882. More found here

6) Nuestra Señora del Socorro, Buenos Aires

The portentous image of the Lord of the Miracles was acquired in the early eighteenth century by the spouses Estanislao Rivero and Dona Andrea Basualdo, a street vendor who by divine providence came to them to offer it for sale. They lived in a humble ranch located in what is now Santa Fe street between Cerrito and Libertad. There, in that little corner of the country, the first cult was received by the neighbors, many of whom have contributed to its acquisition. As this cult was on the rise, the Rivero spouses found themselves in need of expanding the insignificant chapel, so that together with devotees of the Crucified they bought a plot of land on the corner of Santa Fe and Cerrito, where a hall dedicated to the Lord was built. of the Miracles, this being the first Chapel dedicated to the Lord. This small chapel soon became a Sanctuary, with people from all over, for the fame of the wonders that were made there reached the most remote reaches of the Republic. One of the many devotees who came to the chapel to present their cults to the Lord, begged him to grant him an extraordinary favor and as soon as he made his request, he got what he asked for, leaving the chapel to shout a miracle! and from that day the public baptized the prodigious image of the crucified with the name of the Lord of Miracles. As the devotion was increasing and the wonders that were being done called the attention of the Ecclesiastical Authorities, the then rector of the Socorro, Dr. Don Manuel León Ochogavia, proposed to the Bishop of Buenos Aires the image to the Church of Socorro, idea that approved the Prelate and September 14, 1803 was taken processionally from the house of the Rivero to the parish church. There he was deposited in the small niche with grandstand for the candles that the devotees brought to the Christ. In 1662 he prayed the first novena in preparation for his party that would be from 1831, on September 14 the day dedicated to Mr. de los Milagros. Since this cult was not canonical, in 1848, the Cura del Socorro, Don Francisco Villar, begged the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Doctor Don Mariano Escalada, to request from Rome the authorization to render canonical and public worship to Mr. de los Milagros, and the request, SS Pius IX on April 7, 1865 issued a Brief, authorizing the cult. It fell to Mr. Canon, Mr. Apolinario de Casas, to give life to this cult, and in 1871, that priest moved the image to a new altar, which was later decorated finely, building the beautiful Chapel. Since then, the cult of the Lord of Miracles has been increasing, celebrating his feast every year in great form, until in 1903, the first centenary of the Lord of Miracles, Rome was asked for the extraordinary gift of being crowned, favor granted by the SS Leo XIII. The image was crowned on September 13, 1903. In 1943, in memory of the one hundred and forty anniversary of the transfer of the image to our parish, Mr. Cura Miguel Lloveras, with the spontaneous collaboration of a large number of generous parishioners, fulfilled and it embellished the Chapel conserving its precious style and equipping it with a new, artistic and beautiful Altar. His electrical installation was also extended so that the paintings and decorations could shine. The devotion that the whole Republic professes to the Lord of Miracles is extraordinary, and the festivities that are celebrated 

7) Nuestra Señora del Rosario, Buenos Aires

Marking the approach into San Telmo, this 18th-century Dominican church and monastery has a long and colorful history. On the left tower you’ll see replicas of cannons launched against British troops holed up here during the invasion of 1807; the basilica displays flags that were captured from the British. In front of the church is the mausoleum of General Belgrano, the independence hero best known as the creator of the Argentinian flag.

The Basilica of Nuestra Señora del Rosario has three naves, the central one has a barrel vault and a dome over the crossing.

Highlights the Spanish colonial style bars in the atrium, starring Manuel Belgrano’s mausoleum, also remaining at the entrance to the church, which is composed of three arches leading to the narthex trellises. On each side, two doors, one on each tower, take to the aisles. Behind the altar of the aisle that the flags of the British battalions shown.

On the inside, its columns are decorated with reliefs, and the nave was clad in carved marble. The existing main altar was made after the fire the old, burned in 1955 The roofs of the vaults are in an advanced state of deterioration, and prevent accidents plaster detachments product and material has been placed few meters down a network of these.

The confessionals were made of marble, with carved wooden doors and alternate inscriptions over their doors, “Noli Amplius peccare” and “Give iniquitatem meam”. “Verbum Dei Praedica” appears on access to the pulpit.

The basilica has many chapels with images of saints such as St. Martin de Porres, and several plaques in memory of heroes who participated in the Defense and Reconquista during the British invasions of important members of the order and of famous people who are buried in it. For example, Fray José del Rosario Zemborain, Nevares Trespalacios Alejo, José Matías Zapiola, Luis Maria Saavedra and his wife, among others.

Several plates recall the procession held in 1922, including one that replicates a photograph of the crowd coming from the Plaza de Mayo in front of the Cathedral. A particular plate contains the text of the decree signed on 10 October 1926 by President Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear, allowing display the flag of War of Argentina with this image of Our Lady of the Rosary.

On a vane on the right tower is a figure of a dog as the Dominicans are named from the Latin Domini canis (dogs or guardians of the Lord). On the left is the traditional vane silhouette of a gallo.

The building had an organ built in France by the house Mutin Cavaillé-Coll, which was destroyed in 1955 during the aforementioned burning churches. Years later, another body of German origin was located where the altar was installed, but it was not completely finished, and is estimated to run a 60% lack thereof. Today, I still run at maximum capacity, rarely reaches to fill the spacious nave with its volume, but nevertheless presents an architectural contrast gives counterpoint to colonial style building with a modern instrument of the 1960s, which is what first thing a visitor sees when entering the temple.

8) St John of the Flowers Basilica – Buenos Aires

In 1803 the new bishop of Buenos Aires, Benito Lué y Riega, decided to take part of the territories of the parishes of La Piedad, Montserrat, San Isidro and Morón to erect a new one. The family of Ramón Francisco Flores donated an apple to build the building of the future parish church, another to create a plaza-main road through and through-and a third to install the public slaughterhouses of the new town. The file was elevated to the Viceroy Rafael de Sobremonte three years later, and on May 31, 1806, the new parish was formally named San José de Flores. A first precarious temple of adobe, wood and straw, lasted a few years. Father Miguel García raised funds among the parish’s neighbors in order to build a definitive temple, obtaining a donation of twelve thousand quality bricks by Ramón Francisco Flores himself. On February 19, 1810 the foundations of the new church began to be realized, but on May 12, 1810 the works had to be suspended due to lack of funds. On February 18, 1811 the work recommenced, being suspended again on May 10 of that same year. Failing to complete it, the presbyter Garcia was forced to establish the Church in one of the corridors adjacent to the building under construction, and for two decades remained in that place. When the works stopped in 1811, the temple was still without a roof, but with some walls raised by the side and closed the two chapels that were on both sides In that state the works remained for many years, suffering deteriorations that caused their complete destruction. The government of Bernardino Rivadavia decreed in 1823 to undertake at his expense, the building of a new parochial temple, a project that never materialized

9) Santísimo Sacramento, Buenos Aires

The Basilica was donated to the Congregation of the Sacramental Fathers Maria Lina de las Mercedes Castellanos de la Iglesia. Daughter of Aarón Castellanos Velazco, one of the pioneers of the Santa Fe agrarian colonization and the promotion of European immigration in Argentina. She was the wife of Nicolás Hugo de Anchorena Arana. Grandson of Juan Esteban Anchorena, founder of the Argentine dynasty that arrived from Spain in 1751. During his residence in Paris, Mercedes de Anchorena went to mass at the Corpus Christi chapel, at 9 Bis on Rue Moulin Joly. Because the Blessed Sacrament was adored there. Then he spoke with the sacramentine parents. He told them of his desire to build a church in Buenos Aires to worship the Blessed Sacrament. Finally the fundamental stone was placed in 1908, being consecrated in 1916 by the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mariano Antonio Espinosa. That same year erected in Minor Basilica by Pope Benedict XV. It was designed by the architecture studio Alfred Coulomb and Louis Pierre Léopard Chauvet. Those plans were modified. The construction the Salesian architect Ernesto Vespignani. It has five towers, three that can be seen in its central façade. In the center of this front is a sculpture of Blessed Julián Pedro Eymard, founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.

10) Nuestra Señora de Buenos Aires

The Basilica Nuestra Señora de los Buenos Aires is a neo-Gothic Catholic temple in the city of Buenos Aires. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary of the Navigators under whose advocation Don Pedro de Mendoza founded the first settlement of the city of Buenos Aires.  It is the work of Italian architect and presbyter Ernesto Vespignani. It was built between 1911 and 1932

Religious Freedom, Persecution of the Church, & Martyrdom ~ Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

Back in 2013, one of our priests, during his adult catechism class, warned us about what a future persecution in America might look like. The example he used was from a recent speech the papal nuncio gave at Notre Dame on this topic.

Turns out that Nuncio was none other than Vigano.  Here is the text of that speech.


Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò Apostolic Nuncio to the United States

University of Notre Dame, 4 November 2012, 7:45 PM “Seed of the Church: Telling the Story of Today’s Christian Martyrs”

First of all, I should like to thank John Cavadini, Professor of Theology and Director of the Institute for Church Life, for this kind invitation to be with you today to discuss an important set of interrelated topics: (1) religious freedom; (2) the persecution of Christians around the world; and, (3) martyrdom. But before I begin this task, I should also like to thank the University of Notre Dame for its sponsorship of this important conference, and especially its President, Father John Jenkins, for his hospitality, and for giving me the opportunity to get to know this prestigious institution of the Church. I also extend my fraternal and prayerful best wishes to the Most Reverend Kevin Rhoades, Bishop of Fort Wayne – South Bend, for his participation in this event and his warm welcome. As you may know, I am the representative of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the United States, and so, in consideration of this official office I hold and exercise, I acknowledge to you all my profound gratitude to be with you today in order to address these important and timely subjects.

In doing so, it is crucial to see that in the world of the present age, persecution of the faithful can manifest itself in a variety of forms, some obvious, but others less so. While it is necessary to remind ourselves of the obvious, we must also consider the notso-obvious, for great danger to the future of religious freedom lies with religious persecution that appears inconsequential or seems benign but in fact is not. In my service to the Holy See, I have worked in various parts of the world including Iraq and Kuwait, Great Britain, Strasbourg, Nigeria, in the Vatican, and now the United States, it has been a part of my personal makeup and official duties to monitor and register concerns to my superiors about efforts that harm, intentionally or otherwise, the Church and God’s people.

I realize that you have scheduled several prominent speakers who will address the critical questions dealing with religious freedom, persecution of Christians, and martyrdom in the present day around the globe. I do not wish to compete with them nor is in my intention to preempt their incisive and insightful comments which I am confident will elevate the mindfulness of your audience and potential readership about religious freedom, religious persecution, and martyrdom. Countries and regions where these challenges to the faithful exist are in China and Asia, Africa, Europe, the sub-Continent, the Middle East, and Latin America. Let me illustrate the problems in these countries with one example. The circumstances which our brothers and sisters in faith experience in the Peoples’ Republic of China are largely well known by many who follow international developments. The anguish which the Church faces in China has led Pope Benedict XVI to issue his 2007 letter to the Church in China to let the faithful of that great country, and of the world, know that the universal Church has not forgotten them and their faithful witness to Christ and to Christ’s Vicar on Earth. Similar problems exist elsewhere.

In nearby Pakistan and India, Christians face intimidation, sometimes with lethal consequences, which the civil authorities of these respective states seem incapable of arresting. Elsewhere, there are new pressures placed on religious freedom in Middle East, especially in Iraq and now in Syria, in parts of Africa including Egypt, Nigeria, the Sudan, and east Africa. The heavy burdens imposed on Christians in all of these regions can be, and often are, physical and harsh. In some instances, the faithful have witnessed their Christian faith at the expense of their lives which God gave them. In this regard, the heavy hand of so called “anti-blasphemy” laws has sometimes been the method to subjugate the Christian faith.

In all of these instances, we see that the faithful persist in their fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Holy Church! For throughout her history, the Church has gained strength when persecuted. We must recall the words of the Preface for Holy Martyrs from the second edition of the Roman Missal: God chooses the weak and makes them strong. In short, with God’s help we can prevail, but without Him, even our greatest human strength is insufficient because it is frail.

As the papal nuncio to the United States, I realize that I speak from a distinguished podium at a great university. It is my intention to propose for your consideration the interrelated matters of religious freedom, persecution, and martyrdom that are, or should be, of vital concern to you – for these grave concerns exist not only abroad, but they also exist within your own homeland.

In order to establish a framework for my presentation, several key definitions are in order. I will first address the subject of martyrdom. What is it, and why is it relevant to you today? I am sure that most if not all of us are familiar with the martyrs of the Church – both past and present – who gave of their lives because they would not compromise on the principles of faith that accompany the call to discipleship. Theirs is the experience of great suffering that often includes torture and death. Some of the early martyrs of the Church experienced this through cruelty, often by slow means, designed to bring on death. However, the intention underlying the objectives of the persecutor is important to understand: it was to eradicate the public witness to Jesus Christ and His Church. An accompanying objective can be the incapacitation of the faith by enticing people to renounce their beliefs, or at least their public manifestations, rather than undergo great hardships that will be, or can be, applied if believers persist in their resistance to apostasy. The plan is straightforward: if the faith persists, so will the hardships. In more recent times, martyrdom may not necessitate torture and death; however, the objective of those who desire to harm the faith may choose the path of ridiculing the believers so that they become outcasts from mainstream society and are marginalized from meaningful participation in public life. This brings me to the meaning of persecution.

Persecution is typically associated with the deeds preceding those necessary to make martyrs for the faith. While acts of persecution can mirror those associated with martyrdom, other elements can be directed to sustaining difficulty, annoyance, and harassment that are designed to frustrate the beliefs of the targeted person or persons rather than to eliminate these persons. It would seem, then, that the objective of persecution is to remove from the public square the beliefs themselves and the public manifestations without necessarily eliminating the persons who hold the beliefs. The victimization may not be designed to destroy the believer but only the belief and its open manifestations. From the public viewpoint, the believer remains but the faith eventually disappears.

In the context of martyrdom and persecution, the law enforcement branches of the state can be relied upon to achieve the desired goal. The state’s enforcement mechanisms were surely employed in the campaigns that brought the deaths of the early Roman martyrs. The legal mechanisms of new legislation and its enforcement in Tudor England were relied upon in the persecution and martyrdom of Thomas More and John Fisher. As one thinks about these two heroic individuals, you can see the multiple objectives of the state. The first, in their sequential order, were words and then deeds designed to encourage through pressure More and Fisher to accept the King’s and Parliament’s wills to agree with the divorce of King Henry from Queen Catherine. However, when Fisher and More remained resolved in their fidelity to the Church’s teachings about the validity of the marriage but discreet in how they did so, the state mechanisms designed to bring them and their views around were ratcheted up so as to increase the pressure on them. When they resisted the increased pressure, statutes were enacted and amended to make non-compliance a treasonable and, therefore, a capital offence. It was understood by Fisher, More, and the King’s agents that a hideous death rather than a lesser punishment was the inevitable penalty. It is said that while torture was recommended by some to hasten the compliance of Fisher and More, the King’s conscience would not permit it. Nevertheless, when increased levels of persecution did not achieve the desired result of modifying the views of Fisher and More, martyrdom by beheading – rather than hanging, drawing, and quartering – was the inevitable solution. In the cases of Fisher and More, persecution came first, and then it was followed by martyrdom. In both cases, religious freedom was the target. I now turn to religious freedom. What is it?

Religious freedom is the exercise of fidelity to God and His Holy Church without compromise. Human action that reflects this fidelity is what has hastened martyrdom and persecution for many believers of the past, and of today. At the core of this fidelity is the desire to be a good citizen of the two cities where we all live: the City of Man and the City of God. This kind of dual citizenship necessitates libertas Ecclesiae, i.e., the freedom of the Church. This freedom is essential to the religious freedom which properly belongs to the human person. And this freedom that belongs to the human person is simultaneously a human, civil, and natural right which is not conferred by the state because it subsists in the human person’s nature. As the papal representative of the Holy See to the United States, the subject of religious liberty frequently surfaces in the international discussions that constitute a major part of my priestly service to our Church, to the Holy Father, and to you, my dear friends.

It is evident that there is a pressing need to protect religious freedom around the world. However, this freedom is not something that can or should be imposed for it subsists on the Truth of God – “Truth can impose itself on the human mind by the force of its own truth, which wins over the mind with both gentleness and power”!1 That there is recognition by many people of good will about this truth is reassuring given the fact that religious persecution and martyrdom are still present in the world today. This recognition, however, is often challenged by alarms registered by skeptics who question whether it is proper for there to be a public role for religion in civic life.


1 Second Vatican Council, Declaration on Religious Liberty, Dignitatis Humanae, N.1.


We live in an age where most, but not all, of your fellow countrymen still share in the conviction that Americans are essentially a religious people. While current data suggests a progressive decline in religious belief across the western world including the United States, there still appears to be deference given to the importance of religion. But as I have just indicated, there are those who question whether religion or religious belief should have a role in public life and civic affairs. The problem of persecution begins with this reluctance to accept the public role of religion in these affairs, especially but not always when the protection of religious freedom involves beliefs that the powerful of the political society do not share. Thus we are presented with the pressing question about whether the devoted religious believer, let us say the Catholic, can have a right to exercise citizenship in the most robust fashion when his or her views on civic concerns are informed by the faith. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution more than suggests an affirmative answer to this question. But we should not be satisfied with this recognition. After all, important figures, some of whom hold high public office, are speaking today about the right of freedom of worship, but their discourse fails to acknowledge that there is also a complementary right about the unencumbered ability to exercise religious faith in a responsible and at the same time public manner.

In the remaining time that is allotted to me, I shall focus on these concerns and the emerging deleterious impact on the authentic and legitimate exercise of religious freedom within your great country. Let me address the concerns that I see about this fundamental and non-derogable right, on your home front.

Let me begin by briefly stating that as a man of God and therefore a man of hope, it is essential to pray for a just resolution to the issues which face the faithful and their fidelity. As you may know, the Bishops of the United States conducted earlier this year the Fortnight for Freedom, and more recently in October a Novena for Life and Liberty, in order to elevate prayerful consciousness and other responsibilities of the faithful to ensure protection of the “First Freedom” cherished by your nation. One compelling catalyst for these initiatives is found in the legitimate concerns about religious liberty posed by the uncertainties surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; however, this is by no means the only source of concern. When Catholic Charities and businesses owned by faithful Catholics experience pressure to alter their cherished beliefs, the problem is experienced in other venues. In short, the menace to religious liberty is concrete on many fronts. Evidence is emerging which demonstrates that the threat to religious freedom is not solely a concern for non-democratic and totalitarian regimes. Unfortunately it is surfacing with greater regularity in what many consider the great democracies of the world. This is a tragedy for not only the believer but also for democratic society. Here we must consider the important point that religious freedom is not an end in itself, because it has as its highest purpose protection of the ultimate dignity of the human person.2 This argument was acknowledged by Pope Paul VI at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council in his address to the rulers of nations when he rhetorically asked the question “What does the Church seek from you?” She asks of you only liberty, the liberty to believe and to preach her faith, the freedom to love God and serve Him, the freedom to live and to bring to men her message of life. Do not fear her. She is made in the image of her Master, whose mysterious action does not interfere with your prerogatives but heals everything human of its fatal weakness, transfigures it, and fills it with hope, truth, and beauty.

Allow Christ to exercise his purifying action on society!… And we, His humble ministers, allow us to spread everywhere without hindrance the Gospel of peace… Of it, your peoples will be the first beneficiaries, since the Church forms for you loyal citizens, friends of social peace and progress.3


2 This point was made by Father John Courtney Murray, S.J., who was a major contributor to the drafting of the Declaration on Religious Liberty; fn 23, The Documents of Vatican II, Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, Angelus Publication, 1966, p. 688. 3 See,

One illustration of interference with religious freedom, as outlined by Pope Paul, recently surfaced in England which has a Christian past and for centuries was one place where Christianity flourished. The 2010 decision of an English court in the case of Johns vs. Darby City Council, Queens Bench division, has essentially declared that an evangelical Christian couple is unfit to be legal guardians of foster children because of their faith which informs them that certain sexual expressions by consenting adults are sin. Mr. and Mrs. Johns, a devout evangelical couple, had successfully and lovingly served as foster parents for needy children in the past. In spite of their previous exemplary service caring for children who needed love and protection, the civil authorities of the United Kingdom expressed grave reservations about the continuing suitability of Christians who firmly pursue their Christian faith. As a result of the court’s decision, the exercise of religious faith which is protected in theory by juridical texts is, in fact, subject to forfeit. As the judges noted in their decision, the belief of Mr. and Mrs. Johns is based on “religious precepts” which can be “divisive, capricious, and arbitrary.”

Paradoxically, Mr. and Mrs. Johns were doing what is clearly protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – texts which your nation claims to adhere to, and, in the case of the Covenant, is a party. The Johns’ religious freedom was sacrificed to practices which are today considered “rights” by many well educated persons but which are not mentioned in the applicable juridical texts as is religious freedom. If George Orwell were still alive today, he would certainly have material to write a sequel to his famous novel 1984 in which the totalitarian state, amongst other things, found effective means from distancing children from their parents and monopolizing the control of educational processes especially on moral issues.

I am sure the Johns case will be discussed much more in the future. But we must take stock of the fact that the challenges to authentic religious freedom are not relegated to distant places such as England. My concerns about religious liberty and my efforts to protect them have a bearing on what is presently going on in the United States. Over the past months, we have heard much about the legitimate reservations raised by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that pertain to authentic religious freedom and the proper exercise of faith in public. The issues and reservations identified by the Conference’s president, Cardinal Dolan, about the health care mandate dealing with artificial contraception, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization are very real, and they pose grave threats to the vitality of Catholicism in the United States. But we must not forget the other perils to religious liberty that your great country has experienced in recent years. Once again, we see that the rule of law, in the context of your First Amendment and important international protections for religious freedom, has been pushed aside. Let me cite some examples of these other hazards.

A few years ago, the Federal courts of the United States considered the case of Parker v. Hurley in which a number of families were alarmed over the curriculum of the public schools in Lexington, Massachusetts (ironically one of your cradles of liberty!) where young children were obliged to learn about family diversity as presented in a children’s book that elevated as natural and wholesome same-sex relations in marriage. The Parker family and other families, who are Judeo-Christian believers, wished to pursue an “opt-out” for their children from this instruction. While they may not have been aware of it, their sensible plan reflected sound and reasonable rights that are addressed and protected by international human rights standards which are echoed in the Declaration on Religious Liberty, Dignitatis Humanae, of the Second Vatican Council.4 However, the civil authorities and the Federal courts disagreed with, and thereby denied, the lawful claims of these parents who were trying to protect their children from the morally unacceptable. If these children were to remain in public schools, they had to participate in the indoctrination of what the public schools thought was proper for young children. Put simply, religious freedom was forcefully pushed aside once again.

4 The Declaration on Religious Liberty, Dignitatis Humanae, in N. 5, asserts, as do the UDHR and the ICCPR, that parents have rights concerning the moral education of their children which reflect their religious beliefs. The courts deciding the Parker case did not even mention these obligations in their decision.


More recently, we recall the federal court review of Proposition 8 in California. In the legal proceedings surrounding this initiative dealing with the meaning of marriage, Judge Vaughan Walker said this about religious exercise – a freedom enshrined in your Constitution: “Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.”5 This “harm” cited by the judge became the basis for devising a mechanism used to minimize if not eradicate the free exercise of religion which includes the vigorous participation of the religious believer in public and political life.

On other fronts, we have witnessed Catholic Charities across the United States being removed from vital social services that advance the common good because the upright people administering these programs would not adopt policies or engage in procedures that violate fundamental moral principles of the Catholic faith. Furthermore, we have observed influential members of the national American community – especially public officials and university faculty members – who profess to be Catholic, allying with those forces that are pitted against the Church in fundamental moral teachings dealing with critical issues such as abortion, population control, the redefinition of marriage, embryonic stem cell commodification, and problematic adoptions, to name but a few. In regard to teachers, especially university and college professors, we have witnessed that some instructors who claim the moniker “Catholic” are often the sources of teachings that conflict with, rather than explain and defend, Catholic teachings in the important public policy issues of the day. While some of these faculty members are affiliated with nonCatholic institutions of higher learning, others teach at institutions that hold themselves out to be Catholic. This, my brothers and sisters, is a grave and major problem that challenges the first freedom of religious liberty and the higher purpose of the human person.


5 Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker, Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, Findings of Fact N. 77 (August 2010).


History can help us understand what is happening in the present moment to this first freedom. Catholics have, in the past, experienced and weathered the storms that have threatened religious freedom. In this context, we recall that Pope Pius XI took steps to address these grave problems in his 1931 encyclical letter Non Abbiamo Bisogno dealing with religious persecution of the faithful by the fascists in Italy, and in his 1937 letter Mit Brennender Sorge addressing parallel threats initiated by the National Socialists in Germany. In the context of Germany during the reign of National Socialism, we recall that the Oxford Professor Nathanial Micklem examined and discussed the persecution of the Catholic Church is Germany in his 1939 book entitled National Socialism and the Roman Catholic Church. The problems identified by Micklem over six decades ago that deal with the heavy grip of the state’s hand in authentic religious liberty are still with us today.

An Englishman who found his way to the United States, Christopher Dawson (who became a Catholic in his early adulthood) still reminds us that the modern state, even the democratic one, can exert all kinds of pressure on authentic religious freedom. Dawson insightfully explained that the modern democratic state can join the totalitarian one in not being satisfied with “passive obedience” when “it demands full cooperation from the cradle to the grave.” He identified the challenges that secularism and secular societies can impose on Christians which surface on the cultural and the political levels. Dawson thus warned that “if Christians cannot assert their right to exist” then “they will eventually be pushed not only out of modern culture, but out of physical existence.” He acknowledged that this was not only a problem in the totalitarian and non-democratic states, but “it will also become the issue in England and America if we do not use our opportunities while we still have them.”6

6 Christopher Dawson, “The Challenge of Secularism”, Catholic World (1956).


While Dawson made his observations in the 1950’s, we need to recall that Blessed John Paul II recognized the durability of the problems noticed by Dawson during the era                                                           that saw the collapse of the modern Soviet totalitarian state. In his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus, John Paul reminds us that “totalitarianism attempts to destroy the Church, or at least to reduce her to submission, making her an instrument if its own ideological apparatus.”7 But he further noted that this threat is not solely expressed by the state established on dictatorship, for it can also be exercised by a democracy, for “a democracy without values easily turns into openly or thinly disguised totalitarianism.”8 Since the conclusion of the Second World War and the formation of the United Nations, democracies around the world have periodically exhibited traits of this new totalitarianism that emerges from a democracy-without-values, values that must be based on the timeless and universal moral principles adhered to and taught by our Church because these principles are founded on the Truth of Christ which came to set us free!

So, what can be done? Cardinal Dolan has recently exhorted the Catholic faithful to confront the challenges which the faith faces today. His brother bishops in this country and around the world have taken similar action. It is a desperate day when well-educated persons label these efforts as attempts by the hierarchy to control the activities of Catholics in public life. Some have even criticized publicly Cardinal Dolan’s call to the faithful to defend the Catholic contribution to political debate in this fashion: “Dolan to Lay Catholics: Be Our ‘Attractive, Articulate’, (and Unpaid) Flacks.”9 I pray that the authors meant well in saying this, in spite of the statement’s disparaging tone, but these persons fail to recall the nature of the Church as explained by the Second Vatican Council and reiterated by Blessed John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (1988).


7 John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus on the 100th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum, 45, (1991); cf, Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Word of Today, Gaudium et Spes, 76. 8 Centesimus Annus, 46 9 Eduardo Peñalver “Dolan to Lay Catholics: Be Our ‘Attractive, Articulate’ (and Unpaid) Flacks,” Commonweal Magazine, dotCommonweal blog (5 March 2012).


In this exhortation, the Pope urged the lay faithful to be mindful of their crucial role in temporal affairs as disciples of Christ rather than as elements of some political or secular ideology that bases its platform on an indecipherable formula established on the ambiguous foundation that unsuccessfully relies on the cure of “social justice.” It is the proper function of bishops to be teachers of the faith, but it is also true that the laity exercise a major role in implementing this same faith in the affairs of the world. This is why John Paul repeatedly encouraged the faithful with the words of Jesus: “You go into my vineyard, too” (Mt 20:4).10 In order to respond affirmatively to this call, religious freedom is essential.

We are still a far cry from fully embracing the Holy Father’s encouraging exhortation when we witness in an unprecedented way a platform being assumed by a major political party, having intrinsic evils among its basic principles, and Catholic faithful publicly supporting it. There is a divisive strategy at work here, an intentional dividing of the Church; through this strategy, the body of the Church is weakened, and thus the Church can be more easily persecuted.

We must all be mindful that our Lord noted, time and again, that each member of the Church – clerical, religious, and lay – is a branch on the vine of Christ. In our unity with Him, we are a part of something universal – one faith, one belief displayed through a variety of talents, in a multiplicity of places. This is what our Lord asks us to do, and, therefore, this is what we must do: to preach and live the Good News and to do so in communion with our Lord, with the successors of His apostles, and with His Vicar. It is our faith, and it is our duty to live and proclaim the Gospel through the Church’s teachings so that by reasoned proposition, not imposition, God’s will and our discipleship can advance the common good for every member of the human family. This, my friends, is essential to authentic religious freedom because it is the means by which we fulfill the destiny of the human person.


10 John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and the World, Christifideles Laici, 2 (1988).


And so, let us go into the Lord’s vineyard together, with love, hope, freedom, the firmness of the convictions of our faith, and the help that God so willingly extends to us. We have been appointed by God and His holy Church to go forth and bear much fruit. Let us do so with the freedom and its necessary complement, responsibility, which God has given us. We further know that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. What God has given, the servant state does not have the competence to remove. And God has given us the truth of His Son, the truth who gives us the most precious freedom of all, which is the desire to be with God forever! This is our destiny, and this is why religious freedom as I have explained it is of paramount importance. It is essential to the exercise of our other rights and responsibilities as citizens of the Two Cities.

Thank you very much.

Here is the video of the speech

2019 Sensus Fidelium NFL All Catholic Pro Bowl Team

Many might not know that my brother (now a priest) and I are big Carolina Panther fans.  We grew up in Spartanburg, SC, the training camp of the Panthers, and have never missed watching a game.  So I figured why not make a post, being that it is the Pro Bowl today, on the first annual Sensus Fidelium All-Catholic NFL squad.

With any team you must have an owner and this years S.F. Peter Award for best owner goes to the Steeler’s owner, Dan Roone.  He’s a daily Mass goer and it is said that “if you want to see Mr. Roone then go to daily Mass.”  That is a great line to hear others say about you.

Vice President of football operations:
Tom Coughlin for the Jacksonville Jaguars

CNS photo/Sean Gallagher, The Criterion

Head Coaches:
We have a couple head coaches out there
1) Mike Vrabel of the Tennessee Titans.  Coach Vrabel also gives lectures at the Catholic Business League events.
2) John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens.  I know his brother, and coach of the Michigan Wolverines Jim Harbaugh, goes to Peru (the same mission trip the FSSP does) to help those in that area.  I assume John may do that too but I am not sure.  If John is reading this my brother is the priest at St Alphonsus’ Shrine in downtown Baltimore.
3) Dan Quinn of the hated Atlanta Falcons.  Okay, okay, maybe the Falcons are not hated by most of the known world but like I said we are Panther fans.  I big rivalry exists between Carolina and Atlanta 🙂

Assistant Coaches:
So the New England Patriots are in the Super Bowl so we will start with their coaches. More on their story here
1) Special Teams coach Joe Judge
2) Defensive Line coach Brendan Daly
3) Wide Receivers’ coach Chad O’Shea

New England Patriots’ special teams coach Joe Judge, defensive line coach Brendan Daly and wide receivers’ coach Chad O’Shea are pictured in undated photos. The Catholic men will coach their AFC championship team against the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (Credit: CNS photos/courtesy New England Patriots.)

4) Mark Duffner, the Defensive Coordinator for the (other hated team) Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He apparently wanted to be pope as a young man. You can hear an interview on his story here
5) Ben Steele, was the Tight Ends coach for Tampa Bay in 2018.  You can read what he has to say here
Pat Shurmurm now the New York Giants Head Coach.  You can read a story here on him
Eric Sutulovich, Assistant Special Teams Coach, Atlanta Falcons.  Sure he was let go in Feb 2018 but I’m keeping him in the list.
Joe Lombardi, the Quarterbacks Coach with the really hated New Orleans Saints.  Sorry about that blown call.  I would have been upset if that happened to my Panthers.  Hey when is Drew retiring?  Getting tired of him beating us.  Joe is Vince Lombardi’s grandson & you can read more on Joe here & here is a great article on his grandpa, Vince and how Catholicism made the greatest Football coach ever.
9) Jack Del Rio, who may become the next Defensive Coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals.
10) Mike Shula, now the Offensive Coordinator & QB Coach with the NY Giants.  I heard, while he was the Panther’s OC, that he prayed the office and we saw him in the confessional line in Spartanburg often.  He was apparently on EWTN’s Life on the Rock back in 2004 but I could not find the video.



1) Philip Rivers.  The former NC State Wolfpack made news this year with the secular sports talk radio folks when he said how many kids he had.  They were all amazed, sadly.  Here he is doing Life on the Rock on EWTN

2) Kellen Clemens.  Recently retired & finished with the San Diego Chargers backing up Philip Rivers.  In the interview here Kellen speaks of the two of them saying rosaries together, going to mass together (even going to traditional Masses) and growing in the faith.
3) Matt Ryan, of the (did I mention hated before?) Atlanta Falcons.  They had a disappointing season as did Carolina.  Here’s hoping to a better 2019 for you but not better than Cam, of course. Hopefully Matt can check out St Francis de Sales, FSSP parish in Mableton
4) Tom Brady.  Many do not know he is one but, in his words, not exactly a good one.  Here’s a write up on that here.  Say some Ave’s for him (and all of course).
5) Jared Goff of the LA Rams looks like he could be but I’m going off a hunch from going to Catholic school.

Running Backs:
1) Giovani Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals.  He went to St Thomas Aquinas in Florida and here is the Bengal’s former chaplain speaking on things
2) Christian McCaffrey of the greatest team ever, the Carolina Panthers.  Ok I may be exaggerating.  The guy had a phenomenal record breaking year for the cats.  I’ll post his 2018 highlights below.

Offensive Line:
1) Ryan Kalil just retired from the NFL this season after 12 years… all with the beloved Carolina Panthers.  The best center in the game.  Keep Pounding brother!  Here’s an interview he did with “Blessed to Play” with Ron Meyeer
2) Zack Martin of the Dallas Cowboys.  Here is a write up in the Texas Catholic on Zack.
3 Alejandro Villanueva of the Steelers.  He is their Offensive Tackle.  You can read more on Alejandro here

Tight End:
1) Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers.  Mr Reliable is Olsen.  Sadly he has hurt his foot the last two seasons and he may or may not give it another run in 2019.  He is excellent on and off the field.  He, Luke, and Ryan go to St Matthew’s in Charlotte.
2) Luke Wilson of the Detroit Lions. His patron saint is St Luke, his confirmation saint is St Sebastian (he wears a medal of his) & a medal of St Michael.  Here is a write up on more from Luke.


1) Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuke Kuechly.  Charlotte’s favorite adopted son. Here are a few links on him here and his interview with “Blessed to Play”

2) Paul Posluszny of the Jacksonville Jaguars.  A great write up on Paul is found here

1) Prince Amukamara of the NY Giants.  A solid write up here on Prince Free Safety:
1) Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings.

Special Teams

1) Harrison Butker of the KC Chiefs.  My vote is he is the SF MVP, bc he is a fan of the youtube channel so I am biased.  He was originally drafted by the Carolina Panthers and they kept Gano over him (I’m slightly bitter about that haha).  Here is a write up on Harrison 2) Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens.  He signs himself before every kick.  Here is a write up on Justin here

3) Greg “the Leg” Zuerlein of the Rams.  Here is his “Blessed to Play” interview

Well there you have it.  If you have any other recommendations or if I left anyone out, feel free to put them in the comment sections below.


10 Basilicas in the Caribbean

1) Basílica Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre (National Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Charity) –  Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

It was built in 1926 in the village of El Cobre about 12 miles west of Santiago de Cuba. It is a 3 aisled church on the hill “Cerro de la Cantera” and is linked to the village by a flight of 254 steps. It has a central bell tower and two side towers crowned by red-brick domes.

Our Lady of Charity also known as Our Lady of El Cobre or Nuestra Senora de la Caridad del Cobre or “la Virgen de la Caridad” is a popular Marian title of the Blessed Virgin Mary known in many Catholic countries.

Several known Marian images with the same title exist around the world while a particular Hispanic image is pontifically designated by Pope Benedict XV as the Patroness of Cuba. The present image is enshrined in the National Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, built in 1926 and situated in the village El Cobre, near Santiago de Cuba. Pope Pius XI granted a Canonical Coronation for the image on 20 December 1936. The feast day of Our Lady of Charity is September 8; the solemn Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


The history of the La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, began around 1612. The image is thought to have been brought by Spaniard colonists from the town of Illescas, a province in Toledo, Spain where a similar statue of the Virgin Mary of Charity was already well-venerated.

Local legend recalls the Spanish captains who bring with them religious Marian images to guide and protect them from English pirates at sea. Two Native American or Indian brothers, Rodrigo and Juan de Hoyos, and an African slave child, Juan Moreno, set out to the Bay of Nipe for salt.[2] They are traditionally given the moniker the “three Juans”. They needed the salt for the preservation of the meat at the Barajagua slaughter house, which supplied the workers and inhabitants of Santiago del Prado, now known as El Cobre. While out in the bay, a storm arose, rocking their tiny boat violently with incoming waves. Juan, the child, was wearing a medal with the image of the Virgin Mary. The three men began to pray for her protection. Suddenly, the skies cleared, and the storm was gone. In the distance, they saw a strange object floating in the water. They rowed towards it as the waves carried it to them. At first they mistook it for a bird, but quickly saw that it was what seemed to be a statue of a girl. At last they were able to determine that it was a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the child Jesus on her left arm and a gold cross in her right hand. The statue was fastened to a board with an inscription saying “Yo Soy la Virgen de la Caridad” or “I am the Virgin of Charity.” Much to their surprise, the statue remained completely dry while afloat in the water.

Overjoyed by what they had discovered, they hurried back to Barajagua. They showed the statue to a government official, Don Francisco Sánchez de Moya, who then ordered a small chapel to be built in her honor. One night, Rodrigo went to visit the statue, but discovered that the image was gone. He organized a search party, but had no success in finding Our Lady of Charity. Then, the next morning, she was back on the altar, as if nothing had happened. This was inconceivable as the chapel had been locked. This event happened three times. The people of Barajagua came to the conclusion that she wanted to be in a different spot, so they took her to El Cobre. She was received with much joy in El Cobre, and the church there had its bells ring on her arrival. It was at this point that she became known as “Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre” or “Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre”. Much to the dismay of people in El Cobre, the disappearance of the statue continued to happen.[3]

One day, a young girl named Jabba was playing outside, pursuing butterflies and picking flowers. She went towards the mountains of the Sierra Maestra, where she came across the statue on top of a small hill. There were those who did and those who did not believe the little girl’s testimony, but in the end, the Virgin was taken to the spot of her discovery, where a church was erected for her.[3]

Before the famous image on 19 May 1801, a royal edict from king Charles IV of Spain decreed that Cuban slaves were to be freed from the El Cobre copper mines. The story circulated around the island quickly. Many felt that the Virgin purposely chose to have her sanctuary in El Cobre because it is located in Oriente Province. Later folk legends associated the taking of copper materials to their homes after having it blessed near the Virgin’s sanctified image as a form of souvenir and miraculous healing.

The Cuban statue venerated measures about 16 inches tall; the head is made of baked clay covered with a polished coat of fine white powder. Her feet rest on a brilliant moon, while angels spread their golden wings on a silver cloud. The child Jesus raises his right hand as in a blessing, and in his left hand he holds a golden globe. A popular image of Our Lady of Charity includes a banner above her head with the Latin phrase “Mater Caritatis Fluctibus Maris Ambulavit” (Mother of Charity who walked on the road of stormy seas).[4] Originally, the robes on the image were white in color. Newer robes are embroidered with gold and silver, which includes the national shield of Cuba. Among Cuban religious devotees, the image is given the familiar title of La Cachita.

For more please visit here

2) Basilica of St. Anne, Willemstad, Curacao

functions as Catholic Minor Basilica and at the same time as co-cathedral of the Diocese of Willemstad (Latin: Dioecesis Gulielmopolitana) on the island of Curacao in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Venezuela. The other being the main cathedral dedicated to Our Lady the Queen of the Holy Rosary of the same city.

It was built between 1734 and 1752 in the sector of Otrabanda and received its present status in 1975 by decision of Pope Paul VI. Previously between 1843 and 1958 he held the title of pro-cathedral also granted by the Holy See. Follow the Roman or Latin rite and is one of the world’s smallest churches basilicas

3) Basílica Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia – Higüey, Dominican Republic

dedicated to Our Lady of Altagracia, patroness of the nation. It is in Salvaleón de Higüey. The basilica is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia en Higüey.

The cathedral was raised to the honor of a minor basilica by Pope Paul VI on December 17, 1970. It was visited by Pope John Paul II during his visit to the country in 1992.

Among the many reasons that inspired its creation, there is one that stands out. A long time ago a young girl from same city asked her father for a portrait of the Virgin Mary. Her father (name unknown) brought the picture as gift for her. It is believed that the portrait was placed at the house of this girl. For some reason, at the break of dawn of each day, the portrait was always found outside the house, beneath a small tree. Every day this portrait was moved back inside by the girl, until she told her parents about it. The place became sacred, and the basilica was built on that same spot as reference of Mary’s grace.

4) Basílica Catedral Metropolitana Santa María de la Encarnacion – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic


The Cathedral of Santo Domingo is the oldest in America, built by mandate of Pope Julius II in 1504. Seat of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo, its construction began in 1512, under the pastoral care of the first bishop of Santo Domingo, Fray García Padilla , who never came to the island; on the basis of plans by the architect Alonso de Rodríguez. Once the works stopped, they continued with a new design by Luis de Moya and Rodrigo de Liendo in 1522 with the intervention of Bishop Alejandro Geraldini. The architect Alonso González, inspired by the Cathedral of Seville, partially completed the church in 1540. Subsequently Alonso de Fuenmayor, promoted the works and on August 31 of the year 1541 was consecrated. In 1546 Pope Paul III, raised it to the rank of Metropolitan Cathedral and Primate of America at the request of King Charles I of Spain. Another promotion came in 1920 when Pope Benedict XV elevated it to “Minor Basilica of the Virgin of the Annunciation”. In the second half of the 16th century, on the south side the Claustro sector was built, with the cells of the canonical ones; Another example is found in the Cathedral of Salamanca in Spain. In 1547 the works of the bell tower were interrupted, because its height surpassing the Tower of the Homage, had given disturbances to the sentinels. It was headquarters of the troops of Sir Francis Drake during his invasion of 1586, who sacked it. Apparently in 1665 there was a second consecration. Initially without chapels, in 1740 it had 9 and currently it has 14. The chapels of Alonso de Suazo, Rodrígo, Bastidas, Geraldini and Diego Caballero deserve special mention, as well as the crypt of the Archbishops and the lateral Baptismal chapel . Among the works, the painting of N. S. de la Antigua, donated by the Admiral. The organ was taken to Magdeburg in 1850. 

The architecture of the Santo Domingo Cathedral building is characterized by a Gothic style with ribbed vaults, solid walls and three doors, two of which are Gothic in contrast to the third and main one in Plateresque Gothic style. The cathedral contains a vast artistic treasure consisting of altarpieces, paintings (including a panel of the Virgin of Altagracia, dated in 1523), antique cabinetmaking, furniture, monuments and tombstones, among other objects. The mausoleums of the archbishops of the colonial period stand out, also it is necessary to mention the tombstone of Simón Bolívar, one of the predecessors of the Liberator. In the cathedral the remains of Christopher Columbus were sheltered for a time, and they moved to the Columbus Lighthouse. The valuable archbishop’s throne, plateresque style is dated in 1540. It was part of the low choir, dismantled at the end of the last century to place the marble monument in which the remains of Christopher Columbus were kept.   Tomb of Christopher Columbus before his transfer to the Columbus Lighthouse in 1992. The Cathedral is built with calcareous stone, although some walls are masonry and bricks, and has twelve side chapels, three free ships and a main nave. The roof of the central nave is gabled. Those of the lateral naves are constituted by vaults of crucería that accuse to the outside, as if they were semispherical cupolas. The largest length of the basilica is 54 m in the central nave to the bottom of the presbytery. The width of the three naves is 23 m. The highest floor to ceiling height reaches 16 meters, and the constructed area exceeds 3,000 square meters. Fourteen side chapels were built throughout the history of the cathedral. The environment of the cathedral is formulated in three independent spaces, to the north the Plaza de Armas, the crenellated atrium is like an anteroom that marks the main entrance to the religious complex. To the south the claustra called Plazoleta de los Curas. The annexes around the patio allow a passage called Callejón de Curas.

6) Basse-Terre Cathedral – Basse-Terre in Guadeloupe

French: Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Guadeloupe de Basse-Terre

After the take-over of the island by the English in 1713, Roman Catholics were forbidden by law to worship in public. They also suffered certain civil and military disabilities. For example, Roman Catholics were required to take and subscribe certain oaths and declarations, such as the declaration against Transubstantiation, before they would quality for civil or military office or for sitting and voting in the island’s legislature. An Act passed in 1829 finally to remove all disabilities. As a consequence, there was a revival of Roman Catholicism.

The steady influx of Portuguese migrants from the island of Madeira from 1835 onwards strengthened the growth of the Roman Catholic community.

7) Basílica Menor de la Virgen de Monserrate – Hormigueros, Puerto Rico

The foundation of the basilica is on the site of a rural chapel built by a Catalan estate owner called Don Gerardo González, who was the owner of the valleys of the region. Although the specific date when the original chapel was constructed is not known, some records date it as far as 1590. Also, radiocarbon dating tests done to pieces of wood from a coffin found in the basilica point to the existence of the chapel as far back as 1570.

The structure combines romantic elements and styles in its architecture, including a bell tower with Mozarabic elements.

In 1696, the chapel acquired a guest house called Casa de Peligrinos (Pilgrims House). In 1814, Juan Alejo de Arizmendi, the first native Puerto Rican bishop, fell ill in this house after traveling around the island in his second pastoral visit. He desired to be buried in his beloved chapel. He died in Arecibo the following October 12, but his wishes were not followed, burial instead taking place in his catedral. The house is now the rectory of the basilica.

The basilica and its rectory were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 as the Santuario de la Monserate de Hormigueros and Casa de Peregrinos.

8) Catedral Metropolitana Basílica de San Juan Bautista – San Juan, Puerto Rico

The cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in San Juan, located in Old San Juan, the oldest cathedral in the United States, and is the second oldest cathedral in the Americas. Even though the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, is an older church building, the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista was the first cathedral church in the Americas as San Juan, then known as the city of Puerto Rico, was the first diocese of the New World with bishop Don Alonso Manso in 1511.

The original cathedral in what was the city of Puerto Rico (changed to San Juan Bautista in 1521) was constructed from wood in 1521. It was destroyed by a hurricane and the current structure constructed in 1540, being reshaped in later centuries, the last time being in 1917.

The first school in Puerto Rico was the Escuela de gramática (Grammar School). The school was established by Bishop Alonso Manso in 1513, in the area where the cathedral would later be constructed. The school was free of charge and the courses taught were Latin language, literature, history, science, art, philosophy and theology.

The cathedral contains the tomb of the Spanish explorer and settlement founder Juan Ponce de León. It also has a shrine to the Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago, the first Puerto Rican, the first Caribbean-born layperson in history to be beatified.

9) Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Castries – Derek Walcott Square, Castries, Saint Lucia

The cathedral is named after Mary, mother of Jesus, under her title, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.

The form “Cathedral”, as it is commonly known, is the largest church in the Caribbean, measuring 200 ft long (61 m) by 100 ft wide (30 m) and was given the honorary status of a Minor Basilica on 11 May 1999 as part of the centenary celebrations.

10) Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception –  Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Construction started in 1816 and it was completed in 1851. The same year the cathedral was given the honorary status of a Minor Basilica.

The first Catholic Church in Port of Spain was built in 1781 by the Spanish governor Martin de Salverria on the site that is now known as Tamarind Square.

The English governor Sir Ralph Woodford decided to build a church better suited to the growing and predominantly Catholic population. Plans were drawn by the governor’s secretary, Phillip Renagle, and the foundation stone was laid on 24 March 1816. The new church was located west of the existing church at the eastern end of what was MARINE Square, one Independence Square.

The building was laid out in the shape of a Latin cross and built of blue metal from the Laventille quarries, with iron framework from England for the doors and windows.

Dr James Buckley, Vicar Apostolic to the Holy See, arrived in Trinidad in March 1820 and the church became a Cathedral. Completed in 1832, the Cathedral would be consecrated in 1849 after all the debts had been paid. In 1851 Pope Pius IX declared that the cathedral was to rank as a Minor Basilica.

On 2 September the twin towers, originally built of stone, were destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in wood as they are today. The towers contain twelve bells and a clock, added in 1879. (Olga J. Mavrogordato)

10 Basilicas in the United States of America

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