What Makes the Cathedral a Basilica?

Traditionally, churches attained the title of basilica because of their antiquity, dignity, historical importance, or significance as centers of worship.

There are Two Classes of Basilicas: Major and Minor. There are only four major basilicas in the world, all in Rome. The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption is one of only 35 minor basilicas in the United States.

Pope Pius XII elevated St. Mary’s Cathedral to the rank of minor basilica on December 8, 1953 during a Solemn Pontifical High Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend William T. Mulloy, D.D.

Gothic Architecture

Gothic architecture was indicative of the economic and cultural world view of the Middle Ages. Built with contributions of self-conscious and pious merchants, cathedrals were the physical centers of expanding commercial cities. A cathedral, the bishop’s church by definition, was the locus of religious life for the community.

The most bizarre and fascinating element which adorned a cathedral are the sinister gargoyles. In addition to diverting rainwater away from the cathedral, their chimeric designs personified human qualities antithetical to the behavior of virtuous Christians. Our Cathedral is watched over by 26 gargoyles that were carved in Italy.


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