Thursday, October 25, 2007

Cathedrals, Basilicas, and Shrines

~from CERC by Thomas Craughwell
The term “basilica” comes from a Greek word meaning regal or kingly, in other words a cut above the rest. Over the centuries the Catholic Church has used basilica in this sense, with the pope granting the title “Minor Basilica” to a church that has unusual historical significance, or is especially sacred because of the presence of a relic or relics. There are over 1400 minor basilicas around the world, 527 just in Italy alone. These honorary basilicas include the great church at the grotto in Lourdes, the Cathedral of St. Mark in Venice, the Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupré in Quebec, and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The designation “Major Basilica” is restricted to the four greatest churches in Rome — St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls.
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