The Basilica of St. Mary {1932}
The Basilica of St. Mary of Minneapolis, Minnesota, enjoys the distinction of being the first church in the United States to be raised to the dignity of a Minor Basilica by the Holy See.  The honor was conferred by Pontifical Brief dated February 1, 1926, and signed by Cardinal ti Gasparri, Secretary of State to His Holiness, Pope Pius XI, now gloriously reigning.  The original occupies a prominent place in the sacristy of the church, and a translation is herewith appended.
     Conspicuous in the City of Minneapolis, within the territory of the Archdiocese of St. Paul, stands the church dedicated to St. Mary, right noble in its structure and specimens of art, the building whereof, as well as of a Catholic school for boys and girls erected at considerable expense, was undertaken and completed by the late lamented John Ireland, Archbishop of St. Paul, a prelate most worthy of remembrance and renown.  This Church of St. Mary is rightly and deservedly reckoned among the leading churches of the Archdiocese of St. Paul.
     Whereas, Our Beloved Son, James M. Reardon, its present Rector, has made humble request of Us that 'We vouchsafe to raise the sacred edifice in question to the dignity of a Minor Basilica, thereby superseding its present title of Pro-Cathedral, We, of Our full knowledge that the aforesaid church is wholly worthy of this distinction, both by reason of the piety of its worshippers as well as by the splendor of its ritual and the richness of its adornment, have deemed it well to accede to the wishes expressed in this regard.  And We are further moved thereto by the crowning approval and high recommendation of Our Venerable Brother, Austin Dowling, Archbishop of St. Paul, Minnesota, as well as of Our Beloved Son, Donatus Sbarretti, Cardinal Priest of the Holy Roman Church.
     Wherefore, having given the matter most careful and serious consideration along with Our Venerable Brother, Anthony Cardinal Vico, Bishop of Porto and San Rufina and Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, We, of Our own proper motion, after sure knowledge and mature deliberation and from the fullness of Our Apostolic power do, by tenor of these presents, raise to the singular title and dignity of a Minor Basilica St. Mary's Church in the City of Minneapolis and Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minnesota, hereby superseding the title of Pro-Cathedral hitherto in current use; and We grant unto it all the privileges and tokens of honor which pertain to Minor Basilicas as of right.{Page 92}

     This, then, is Our behest and decree, that these presents be and continue to be always sound, valid and effective; that they obtain and maintain their effect whole and entire; that they be, both now and hereafter, ample authorization for those whom they concern or shall concern; that thus it must be duly judged and defined; and that if aught else over and above these presents should happen to be attempted by any person or by any authority whatsoever, whether knowingly or unknowingly, the same shall be null and void everything to the contrary notwithstanding.
     Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, under the Fisherman's Seal, on the first day of February in the year 1926, being the fourth of Our Pontificate.
P. Cardinal Gasparri,
Secretary of State.

Origin and Development of Basilicas
     The name, Basilica, applied to a church is new in America and it may not be uninteresting to explain its significance, trace its history, and specify the privileges it connotes.
In pre-Christian times buildings erected in the form of pillared halls were used for public assemblies and for the administration of justice.  They were called Basilicas, or "kingly" halls.  The usual plan was an oblong rectangle with a broad central nave separated from side aisles, or ambulatories, by rows of columns.  The walls of the nave rested on these columns and were carried up above the roofs of the side aisles to form a clerestory pierced with windows to admit light to the building.  At one end of the structure was the entrance consisting, usually, of several doors under a portico, and at the other a semi-circular vaulted niche, or apse, separated from the main building by a screen of columns or a low balustrade, and occupied by the tribune of the judge, and an altar for sacrifice to be offered before the transaction of business.
     Many buildings of this architectural type graced the Roman Forum in the second century before Christ; and when the religious persecutions of the first three centuries ceased under the Emperor Constantine, they were either transformed into {Page 95} Christian churches or served as models for such edifices.
They were not unsuited to that purpose.  The semi-circular niche was readily converted into a sanctuary, and the high altar, usually covered with a baldachin, occupied the place of the raised platform of the judge.  Transepts were often added between the apse and the nave for practical purposes and on account of their symbolism, giving the whole a cruciform appearance.  Under the altar was the confession or shrine, of the titular saint or martyr.
The dedication of these Basilicas to the worship of the true God present in the tabernacle gave them a new significance as the audience-chamber of the King of Kings, and the use of the word, Basilica, as a name for a Christian Church became quite general.  It was natural that in time these kingly churches should take on rich ornamentation, usually in mosaic and gold.  While the exterior of the Basilica was extremely plain, the interior.was resplendent with glass mosaic on a blue or golden background.  Especially rich were the half-dome of the apse and the wall space surrounding its arch and called the triumphal arch.  Next in dewrative importance came the broad band of wall beneath the clerestory windows.  In the fifth century square towers came into vogue and modifications of the general plan added to the number of naves.
      From the time of Constantine the name, Basilica, was used in the writings of the Fathers of the Church and in official documents to signify the Christian Church.  "Once," says St. Isidore, "they called the Basilica the dwelling-place of the kings, but now the churches of the Lord are so named, because therein to the King of Kings, to God Himself, are offered up adoration and sacrifice." The exterior of a Basilica is usually without special architectural ornamentation.  The monotony of the walls is broken by simple cornices, entablatures and mural offsets; and a low gable roof of tile or metal covers the main structure.

Major and Minor Basilicas
     Scarcely anything remains of the Basilicas adapted to Christian worship in the early centuries; and but few remnants are {Page 96} to be found of the numerous Basilicas erected under Constantine.
The most important ones-the Vatican Basilica, enshrining the remains of St. Peter; the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, erected over the body of the Apostle of the Gentiles; the Basilicas of St. Lawrence and St. Agnes in Rome; the Basilicas of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, of the Nativity in Bethlehem and of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople are no longer the original churches.  There are many Basilicas in Rome and elsewhere dating from the fifth and ,sixth centuries, modified and restored from time to time during the intervening years.
     In the liturgical sense a Basilica is a church upon which, on account of its importance, special distinction has been bestowed.  These Basilicas are distinguished as Major and Minor, not because of their size but because of their dignity.  To the Major Basilicas belong the four Patriarchal churches of Rome: St. John Lateran; St.  Peter's; St. Paul Outside the Walls; and St. Mary Major.  All others are known as Minor Basilicas, of which there are nine in Rome, and a large number throughout the world.  To this class belongs the Basilica of St. Mary of Minneapolis.
     No church may arrogate to itself the title of Basilica.  The distinction is bestowed only by Apostolic Letter, bearing the Seal of the Fisherman, and carries with it certain rights and privileges.  The granting of such a title is without reference to the architectural style, size, or antiquity of the church.  It signifies that the church so honored is worthy of special v eneration, either because of its origin and historical association or, as in the present instance, in virtue of an exercise of apostolic power by the Sovereign Pontiff.

Rights and Privileges of Basilicas
     Churches so honored enjoy certain rights and privileges. in the rescript elevating St. Mary's Church of Minneapolis to the dignity of a Minor Basilica we read, "We grant unto it all the privileges and tokens of honor which pertain to Minor Basilicas as of right." What are these "privileges and tokens of honor?" {Page 97}
     For centuries there was question of the real meaning of this phrase.  The official interpretation was given by the Sacred Congregation of Rites on August 27, 1836; when it declared that the privileges belonging to Minor Basilicas from time immemorial comprise preeminence of rank, the use of the pavilion and bell and the wearing of the Cappa Magna by the Canons.  By time-honored custom a Basilica also has the right to a coat-of-arms and a corporate seal.
     The preeminence of a Minor Basilica has reference to the ranking of its corporate clergy in public functions, processions, etc.  In their own diocese the basilical clergy are entitled to precedence over all the other clergy of the diocese, except those of the Cathedral; and, in a diocese not their own, they outrank all others except the Cathedral clergy of that diocese and, if such there be, the clergy of a Basilica older than their own.
     The origin of the privilege granting a Basilica the use of two distinctive insignia, namely, the pavilion and the bell, is lost in the twilight of history.  The pavilion or canopy is a large umbrella so constructed that it cannot open more than half way.  It is made of twelve alternate stripes of red and yellow silk with pendants braided and fringed in yellow and so arranged that to each stripe is attached a pendant of the opposite color-tbe whole supported by ribs fastened to a wooden handle topped with a ball and cross of gilded metal.  Originally the pavilion was held over the head of the Supreme Pontiff to shield him from rain or sun, whenever he visited a Basilica.  It was borne by the clergy when they went in procession to meet the Pontiff at the door, and the bearer held it half open and ready for instant use.  In the course of time the custom fell into desuetude; but the pavilion has been retained as a symbol of honor distinctive of Basilicas.
     The origin of the other mark of dignity is traceable to the custom of ringing a bell to announce the starting of the clerical procession to meet the Pope at the entrance of the Basilica.  The bell is not more than six inches in diameter at its lowest part and is mounted on an elaborate framework, or belfry, of metal or carved wood designed according to the architecture of the church and fixed on top of a banner pole. {Page 98}
     The pavilion and bell are carried in procession, not by the clergy, but by prominent members of the congregation-the bell immediately behind the processional cross and the pavilion following it.  When not in use they are Prominently displayed in the sanctuary.  The right to use them, being a pontifical concession, cannot be curtailed, much less abolished, by diocesan custom or ordinance. The Basilica of St. Mary is not yet provided with these insignia.
     The Cappa Magna is a choir-vestment of purple with an ermine cape and folded train worn by the Canons of the Basilica during the recitation of the Divine Office.  This privilege is in abeyance in the United States since there are no Canons connected with our churches.
The other insignia of a Basilica are, by immemorial custom, a coat-of-arms and a corporate seal.  A coat-of-arms differs from a seal, although the latter may, and usually does, embody the former as one of its main features.  The seal with the name of the church engraved on it is used to authenticate written documents and to attach waxen seals.  In the coat-of-arms of a Basilica the distinctive heraldic device is the pavilion or umbrella so placed that the pole or handle is behind the shield on which are emblazoned the armorial bearings of the church, its patron, the city in which it is located and the diocese to which it belongs.
     The coat-of-arms of the Basilica of St. Mary is a striking example of ecclesiastical heraldry, simple yet expressive in design and in the best tradition.  The lower half of the shield symbolizes Minneapolis, "the City by the Waterfall," the alternate, horizontal, wavy stripes of blue and silver representing the waters of the Mississippi and St. Anthony Falls.  Above these is a broad silver band typifying the indented battlements of a city.  The upper half of the shield is blue with a silver crescent moon in the center of the field-the heraldic device of the Immaculate Conception, the original name of the church.  Blue and white are the characteristic colors of the Blessed Virgin Mary, its patroness.
The bell is not a part of basilical heraldry, but is purely a processional ornament. {Page 99}
     We may, therefore, interpret this coat-of-arms as that of a Basilica dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of her Immaculate Conception, in a city by the waterfall.  The wavy lines of blue and silver constitute part of the coat-of-arms of the Archdiocese of  St. Paul in which the Basilica is located.
The coat-of-arms is usually sculptured on the front of the church, parochial residence, other parish buildings and their furnishings; engraved on the sacred vessels of the altar, silverware, etc.; embroidered on vestments and banners; and engraved on the official stationary and documents.

Spiritual Privileges
By virtue of its elevation to basilical rank a church is not necessarily dowered with spiritual privileges above the ordinary.  That it may be so enriched a petition for such favors, approved by the Ordinary of the diocese, must be sent to those who have faculties to grant them.
The Basilica of St. Mary is one of the most highly indulgenced churches in the United States.
     By virtue of a Pontifical Brief, dated March 5, 1927, and signed by Cardinal Gasparri, Secretary of State to His Holiness, Pope Plus XI - a translation of which is hereto appended - the faithful who visit the Basilica of St. Mary can gain a Plenary Indulgence on the first Sunday of every month in perpetuity on the usual conditions of Confession and Communion and prayers for the intention of the Holy Father.
     The Reverend Pastor of the Parish Church of St. Mary, in the City of Minneapolis, in the Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minnesota, humbly petitioned Us to grant said Church the privilege of a Plenary Indulgence in perpetuity.  We have looked with favor upon this request, inspired by charity, because by this means the faith of the Christian people will be strengthened, and the salvation of souls promoted, by applying to them graces ever abundantly at the disposal of the Church. We, having taken counsel with the Major Penitentiary, a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, and trusting {Page 100}
in the mercy of God, and relying upon the authority of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, grant and concede a Plenary Indulgence, on the first Sunday of every month, to all the faithful who receive the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion, visit in a spirit of devotion the parish church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and pray for peace and harmony among Christian rulers, the extirpation of heresy, the conversion of sinners, the exaltation of Holy Mother Church. We decree that this document shall remain in force, have its effect, and retain its value in perpetuity, and that it applies now and shall apply in the future in its entirety to said Church of the Blessed Virgin in Minneapolis.  This decree shall be understood and interpreted in the sense that anything shall be null and void, now and in perpetuity, that may be attempted otherwise than here decreed, by any one, no matter by what authority, knowingly or unknowingly everything to the contrary notwithstanding.  This shall remain in force for all future times. Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, under the Seal of the Fisherman, the fifth day of March, nineteen hundred and twenty-seven, the sixth year of Our Pontificate.
P. Cardinal Gasparri,
Secretary of State
Affiliation With St. Mary Major
The Basilica of St. Mary was the first church in the United States-and the only one, as far as we are aware,- to become affiliated with St. Mary Major in Rome.  The following is a translation of the official decree.


To Our Beloved, The Pastor Of The Basilica Of St.  Mary, Minneapolis-
Everlasting Greetings In The Lord.
 The filial and striking devotion which you cherish towards the Sacred Image of the Virgin Mother of God, painted by the hand of St. Luke, the Evangelist, which has been enshrined for many centuries in Our Liberian Basilica, and becomes more resplendent every day by reason of the miracles which God deigned to work through it at all times even to the present, fittingly merits that We grant you the favors conceded to Us by apostolic dispensation.
     Wherefore, you have petitioned us that, because of the singular devotion you profess towards the Mother of God and Our Liberian Basilica, specially dedicated to her, We deign to unite, affiliate and incorporate the Basilica of St. Mary of Minneapolis, in the Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minnesota, with the sacred Basilica of St. Mary Major, {Page 101}
by which the aforesaid church may participate and share in the favors, indulgences, privileges and apostolic indults conceded to Us and to the said Liberian Basilica by the Supreme Pontiffs.
Desirous of acceding to your pious request, as far as 'We are able in-the Lord, by virtue of Our ordinary faculties which We enjoy by the tenor of the aforesaid apostolic indults, and especially by reason of the faculties graciously granted by Pope Clement XII, of blessed memory, under the Seal of the Fisherman in the Apostolic Brief of June 8, 1736, We grant you the desired affiliation, so that all the faithful of both sexes who visit the said church, with proper dispositions, may gain, share in and enjoy all the indulgences, spiritual privileges and favors, according to the mind of the Church, described in the above-mentioned rescripts of Clement XII. These indulgences, spiritual privileges and favors are summarized as follows:
PLENARY INDULGENCES on the feasts of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), Nativity (September 8), Annunciation (March 25), and Assumption (August 15), of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
PARTIAL INDULGENCES of twenty-five years and as many quarantines (forty days) on the feast of the Purification (February 2); five years and five quarantines on the feast of the Visitation (July 2); four years and four quarantines on the feast of the Presentation    (November 21); three years and three quarantines on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross September 14); two years and two quarantines on the feast of the Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel (September 29).
STATIONAL INDULGENCES: First Sunday in Advent; Vigil of Christmas; the Nativity; Second Sunday in Lent; 'Wednesday of Holy Week; Easter Sunday; Rogation Monday; Feast of the Dedication of Our Lady of the Snow (August 5); Wednesday of Ember Weeks. (A "station" is a church to which the clergy and laity of Rome go in procession on stated days to say special prayers).

     In testimony whereof, We have ordered this document to be signed by Our Reverend Secretary and attested by the Grand Seal of the Chapter.
     Given in the Office of Our Chapter at St. Mary Major on the ninth day of January, in the year nineteen hundred and twenty-seven.
+Vincentius Cardinal Vannutelli,
                  Archpriest of the Patriarchal Liberian Basilica
                                 Marcus Canon Martini,
                                       Secretary of the Chapter.

                   To the Reverend James M. Reardon,
               Pastor of the Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
                         Seen and approved, May 21, 1927.
                      +Augustinus Dowling,
                                     Archbishop of St. Paul.

{Page l02}
Affiliation with St. John Lateran
     Only a few churches in this country are affiliated with St. John Lateran, the Mother and Head of all the churches in Rome and in the world.  That honor can be claimed by the Basilica of St. Mary, as evidenced by the following translation of the official rescript.


     The singular devotion which you have manifested towards Our Holy Lateran Basilica merits adequate recognition on Our part, and induces Us to grant you those spiritual favors which are permitted by the Apostolic See, especially as they will promote the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
     The request you have made to Us is a manifest indication that you cherish a deep devotion for Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, as well as for Our Lateran Basilica, dedicated to them.  Inspired by this devotion you desire that the Parish and Basilica of St. Mary of Minneapolis, in the Archdiocese of St. Paul, be aggregated, affiliated, united and incorporated with Our Lateran Basilica, to the end that We may grant and Communicate to your Basilica all the indulgences and spiritual privileges accorded to Our Basilica by Papal concession.
     We have decreed to look with favor on your request, as We are convinced that it is now, and, in future, will be, highly conducive to the salvation of souls.  We, therefore, in union with His Eminence Basil Pompili, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, Vicar of His Holiness Pius XI in the City of Rome, by the mercy of God, Bishop of Veliterno, and Archpriest of Our Holy Lateran Basilica, in chapter assembled, in accordance with the regulations of Our Roman Papal Lateran Patriarchate, by Our ordinary powers, which We enjoy by Apostolic Indults and Privileges, and now administer, and particularly by virtue of the faculties conferred on Us by Pope Benedict XIV, of happy memory, on the fourth day of May, 1751, beginning with the words, "Assidux Solicitudinis," grant and permit, in the fullest measure possible, the aforesaid aggregation, affiliation, union and incorporation of the Basilica of St. Mary in the City of Minneapolis, in the Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minnesota.
     We, likewise, declare the aforesaid Basilica of St. Mary an associate of Our Holy Lateran Basilica according to the faculties granted Us by the Roman Pontiffs and the decrees of the Council of Trent, and by virtue of the constitutions of the Sovereign Pontiffs, in such
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manner that the faithful of both sexes, visiting the aforesaid Basilica of St. Mary, rightly disposed, may enjoy, receive and participate in all the above-mentioned indulgences, privileges and spiritual favors, in the same measure as if they personally visited Our Lateran Basilica.
     The following is a summary of the indulgences and spiritual favors they may obtain in the Lord:

PLENARY INDULGENCES may be gained by all who, truly penitent and after confession, visit the Basilica of St. Mary on the feast days of the Ascension of Our Lord; of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24); of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29) ; of St. John the Evangelist (December 27); of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (November 9), between the first vespers and sunset of the feast day itself, and pray for the exaltation of Holy Mother Church and for peace among Christian rulers.
     An indulgence of seven years and as many quarantines (forty days) may be gained by all who, truly penitent and after confession, visit the aforesaid church on the feast days of the other Apostles St. Andrew (November 30); St. James the Greater (July 25); St. Thomas (December 21); Sts. Philip and James (May 1); St. Bartholomew (August 24); St. Matthew (September 21); Sts. Simon and Jude (October 29); St. Mathias (February 24), under the same conditions.
     An indulgence of four years and as many quarantines is granted to all who visit the said Basilica on any day between the first Sunday of Advent and Christmas, and between Ash Wed-nesday and Easter Sunday, being truly penitent and having the intention of receiving the Sacraments before the expiration of these periods.  On other days of the year an indulgence of one hundred days may be gained.
     The same STATIONAL INDULGENCES may be gained by all who visit the Basilica, that are granted in connection with the Station days of the Lateran Church, as set forth in the Roman Missal, namely, the first Sunday of Lent; Palm Sunday; Holy Thursday; Holy Saturday; Tuesday of Rogation Week; Saturday within the Octave of Easter; and the Vigil of Pentecost, provided they are truly penitent and intend to go to confession.
     By virtue of the foregoing faculties We grant and communicate the indulgences and privileges enjoyed by the Lateran Basilica to the Basilica of St. Mary of Minneapolis, Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minnesota, with the consent of the local Ordinary.  Similar privileges will not be granted to any other church in that city.
     Moreover, We declare that all these indulgences are applicable to the souls in Purgatory, in accordance with the Rescript of Pope Pius VI.
     We decree that, for the future, every fifteen years, computed from the date of this letter, you or your successors shall renew this request and thus obtain from Us the confirmation of this aggregation, union, association and affiliation; otherwise, at the end of this period, if the renewal or confirmation of the above-mentioned {Page 104} letter be not asked and granted, the Basilica of St. Mary will cease to enjoy the aforesaid spiritual favors and after that this letter shall be null and void.
     In testimony of these, one and all, We have had this letter signed by the Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Chamberlains and the Reverend Secretary of the Canons, and fortified by the Grand Seal of Our Chapter, as prescribed in such cases.
     Given at the Lateran, February twenty-seven, in the nineteen hundred and twenty-seventh year after the Birth of Our Lord, the sixth year of the Pontificate of Our Holy Father in Christ, Pius XI, by Divine Providence, Pope.
    Joseph Quadrini, Canon.
  Pius Paschini, Canon.
           V. Misuraca, Canon, Secretary.
Germanus Straniero,
                   Dean of Canons of the Lateran Basilica
Seen and approved, May 5, 1927,

+Augustinus Dowling,
Archbishop of St. Paul.

     The Basilica of St. Mary is, likewise, affiliated with the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Holy Land; but the spiritual privileges thereto annexed are in abeyance until a Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel is officially established in the parish, and the Pious Union under the title of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus is canonically erected and aggregated to the Primary Union under the direction of the Carmelite Order. {105}