Basilica

The Latin word basilica (derived from Greek: βασιλική στοά, Royal Stoa, the tribunal chamber of a king) has three distinct applications in modern English. Originally, the word was used to refer to an ancient Roman public building, where courts were held, as well as serving other official and public functions. It usually had the door at one end and a slightly raised platform and an apse at the other, where the magistrate or other officials were seated. The basilica was centrally located in every Roman town, usually adjacent to the main forum. Subsequently, the basilica was not built near a forum but adjacent to a palace and was known as a "palace basilica".

As the Roman Empire adopted Christianity, the major church buildings were typically constructed with this basic architectural plan and thus it became popular throughout Europe. It continues to be used in an architectural sense to describe rectangular buildings with a central nave and aisles, and usually a raised platform at the opposite end from the door. In Europe and the Americas the basilica remained the most common architectural style for churches of all Christian denominations, though this building plan has become less dominant in new buildings since the latter 20th century.

Thirdly, the term refers specifically to an official designation: a large and important Catholic church that has been given special ceremonial rights by the Pope, whatever its architectural plan. These are divided into four major basilicas, all of which are ancient churches located within Rome, and, as of 2017, 1,757 minor basilicas around the world.[1]

Some Catholic basilicas are Catholic pilgrimage sites, receiving tens of millions of visitors per year.[2][3] In December 2009 the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe set a new record with 6.1 million pilgrims during Friday and Saturday for the anniversary of Our Lady of Guadalupe.[4]

Petersdom von Engelsburg gesehen
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, a major basilica of the Roman Catholic Church, is a central-plan building, enlarged by a basilical nave

Terminology

Basilica of St. John Lateran (5790154828)
St. John in the Lateran is both an architectural and an ecclesiastical basilica

The Latin word basilica derives from the Greek βασιλικὴ στοά (basilikè stoá), lit. "royal stoa (walkway)", originally referring to the tribunal chamber of a king. In Rome the word was at first used to describe an ancient Roman public building where courts were held, as well as serving other official and public functions. To a large extent these were the town halls of ancient Roman life. The basilica was centrally located in every Roman town, usually adjacent to the main forum. These buildings, an example of which is the Basilica Ulpia, were rectangular, and often had a central nave and aisles, usually with a slightly raised platform and an apse at each of the two ends, adorned with a statue perhaps of the emperor, while the entrances were from the long sides.[5][6]

By extension the name was applied to Christian churches which adopted the same basic plan and it continues to be used as an architectural term to describe such buildings, which form the majority of church buildings in Western Christianity, though the basilican building plan became less dominant in new buildings from the later 20th century.

Architecture

RomaBasilicaMassenzioDaPalatino
Remains of the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine in Rome. The building's northern aisle is all that remains.
Dehio 6 Basilica of Maxentius Floor plan
Floor plan of the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine

The Roman basilica was a large public building where business or legal matters could be transacted. The first basilicas had no religious function at all. As early as the time of Augustus, a public basilica for transacting business had been part of any settlement that considered itself a city, used in the same way as the covered market houses of late medieval northern Europe, where the meeting room, for lack of urban space, was set above the arcades, however. Although their form was variable, basilicas often contained interior colonnades that divided the space, giving aisles or arcaded spaces on one or both sides, with an apse at one end (or less often at each end), where the magistrates sat, often on a slightly raised dais. The central aisle tended to be wide and was higher than the flanking aisles, so that light could penetrate through the clerestory windows.

The oldest known basilica, the Basilica Porcia, was built in Rome in 184 BC by Cato the Elder during the time he was Censor. Other early examples include the basilica at Pompeii (late 2nd century BC).

Probably the most splendid Roman basilica (see below) is the one begun for traditional purposes during the reign of the pagan emperor Maxentius and finished by Constantine I after 313 AD.

Basilicas in the Roman Forum

Palace basilicas

In the Roman Imperial period (after about 27 BCE), a basilica for large audiences also became a feature in palaces. In the 3rd century AD, the governing elite appeared less frequently in the forums.

They now tended to dominate their cities from opulent palaces and country villas, set a little apart from traditional centers of public life. Rather than retreats from public life, however, these residences were the forum made private.(Peter Brown, in Paul Veyne, 1987)

Seated in the tribune of his basilica, the great man would meet his dependent clientes early every morning.

Constantine's basilica at Trier, the Aula Palatina (306 CE), is still standing. A private basilica excavated at Bulla Regia (Tunisia), in the "House of the Hunt", dates from the first half of the 5th century. Its reception or audience hall is a long rectangular nave-like space, flanked by dependent rooms that mostly also open into one another, ending in a semi-circular apse, with matching transept spaces. Clustered columns emphasised the "crossing" of the two axes.

Christian adoption of the basilica form

Basilica (architecture) schematic section
Structural elements of a gothic basilica.
Variations: Where the roofs have a low slope, the gallery may have own windows or may be missing

The remains of a large subterranean Neopythagorean basilica dating from the 1st century AD were found near the Porta Maggiore in Rome in 1915. The ground-plan of Christian basilicas in the 4th century was similar to that of this Neopythagorean basilica, which had three naves and an apse.

In the 4th century, once the Imperial authorities had decriminalised Christianity with the 313 Edict of Milan, and with the activities of Constantine the Great and his mother Helena, Christians were prepared to build larger and more handsome edifices for worship than the furtive meeting-places (such as the Cenacle, cave-churches, house churches such as that of the Roman consuls John and Paul) they had been using. Architectural formulas for temples were unsuitable due to their pagan associations, and because pagan cult ceremonies and sacrifices occurred outdoors under the open sky in the sight of the gods, with the temple, housing the cult figures and the treasury, as a backdrop. The usable model at hand, when Constantine wanted to memorialise his imperial piety, was the familiar conventional architecture of the basilicas.[7]

Transeptarm
Floor plan of a Christian church of basilical form, with part of the transept shaded. Either the part of the nave lying to the west in the diagram or the choir may have a hall structure instead. The choir also may be aisleless.

There were several variations of the basic plan of the secular basilica, always some kind of rectangular hall, but the one usually followed for churches had a central nave with one aisle at each side and an apse at one end opposite to the main door at the other end. In (and often also in front of) the apse was a raised platform, where the altar was placed, and from where the clergy officiated. In secular building this plan was more typically used for the smaller audience halls of the emperors, governors, and the very rich than for the great public basilicas functioning as law courts and other public purposes.[8] Constantine built a basilica of this type in his palace complex at Trier, later very easily adopted for use as a church. It is a long rectangle two storeys high, with ranks of arch-headed windows one above the other, without aisles (there was no mercantile exchange in this imperial basilica) and, at the far end beyond a huge arch, the apse in which Constantine held state.

Comparison of profiles of churches

Basilica

Basilical structure: The central nave extends to one or two storeys more than the lateral aisles, and it has upper windows.

Pseudobasilica

Pseudobasilica (i. e. false basilica): The central nave extends to an additional storey, but it has no upper windows.

Stepped hall church

Stepped hall: The vaults of the central nave begin a bit higher than those of the lateral aisles, but there is no additional storey.

Hall church central nave wider

Hall church: All vaults are almost on the same level.

Aisleless church, lateral chapels

Aisleless church with wallside pilasters, a barrel-vault and upper windows above lateral chapels

Development

Assumption of Mary's in Bad Königshofen (Franconia, Germany) is a pseudobasilica

Königshofen-Stadtpfarrkirche
Grabfeld 2011 006

Putting an altar instead of the throne, as was done at Trier, made a church. Basilicas of this type were built in western Europe, Greece, Syria, Egypt, and Palestine, that is, at any early centre of Christianity. Good early examples of the architectural basilica include the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem (6th century AD), the church of St Elias at Thessalonica (5th century AD), and the two great basilicas at Ravenna.

The first basilicas with transepts were built under the orders of Emperor Constantine, both in Rome and in his "New Rome", Constantinople:

"Around 380, Gregory Nazianzen, describing the Constantinian Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople, was the first to point out its resemblance to a cross. Because the cult of the cross was spreading at about the same time, this comparison met with stunning success." (Yvon Thébert, in Veyne, 1987)

Thus, a Christian symbolic theme was applied quite naturally to a form borrowed from civil semi-public precedents. The first great Imperially sponsored Christian basilica is that of St John Lateran, which was given to the Bishop of Rome by Constantine right before or around the Edict of Milan in 313 and was consecrated in the year 324. In the later 4th century, other Christian basilicas were built in Rome: Santa Sabina, and St Paul's Outside the Walls (4th century), and later St Clement (6th century).

A Christian basilica of the 4th or 5th century stood behind its entirely enclosed forecourt ringed with a colonnade or arcade, like the stoa or peristyle that was its ancestor or like the cloister that was its descendant. This forecourt was entered from outside through a range of buildings along the public street. This was the architectural ground-plan of St Peter's Basilica in Rome, until in the 15th century it was demolished to make way for a modern church built to a new plan.

In most basilicas, the central nave is taller than the aisles, forming a row of windows called a clerestory. Some basilicas in the Caucasus, particularly those of Armenia and Georgia, have a central nave only slightly higher than the two aisles and a single pitched roof covering all three. The result is a much darker interior. This plan is known as the "oriental basilica", or "pseudobasilica" in central Europe.

Gradually, in the early Middle Ages there emerged the massive Romanesque churches, which still kept the fundamental plan of the basilica.

In the United States the style was copied with variances. An American church built imitating the architecture of an Early Christian basilica, St. Mary's (German) Church in Pennsylvania, was demolished in 1997.

Basilica di San Pietro 1450

Old St Peter's, Rome, as the 4th-century basilica had developed by the mid-15th century, in a 19th-century reconstruction

StSophiaChurch-Sofia-10

Nave of the Saint Sofia Church - second oldest church in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, dating to the 4th-6th century.

Kloster Bursfelde Westkirche

Romanesque basilica of nowadays Lutheran Bursfelde Abbey in Germany

Nuremberg - St. Sebald church

St. Sebald's in Nuremberg has a basilical nave and a hall choir

14-01-22-palma-de-mallorca-018

Palma Cathedral on Mallorca in Spain has windows on three levels, one above the aisles, one above the file of chapels and one in the chapels.

St Mary's German Church interior December 1987

A rare American church built imitating the architecture of an Early Christian basilica, St. Mary's (German) Church in Pennsylvania, now demolished.

Basilicas in Eastern Orthodoxy

Sârbi Josani
Wooden church from Maramureș, Romania

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, in general, the basilica is a mere architectural description of churches built in the ancient style. It bears no significance with regard to precedence or importance of the particular building or clerics associated with it. Eastern basilicas may be single-naved, or have the nave flanked by one or two pairs of lower aisles; it may have a dome in the middle: in this case, it is called a "domed basilica".

In Romania, the word for church both as a building and as an institution is biserică, derived from the term basilica.

The style influenced the construction of early wooden churches.

Ecclesiastical basilicas

Assisi San Francesco BW 2
The Papal Basilica of St Francis of Assisi (architecturally an aisleless nave with lateral chapels)

The Early Christian purpose-built basilica was the cathedral basilica of the bishop, on the model of the semi-public secular basilicas, and its growth in size and importance signalled the gradual transfer of civic power into episcopal hands, which was under way in the 5th century. Basilicas in this sense are divided into classes, the major ("greater") basilicas and the minor basilicas; there are three other papal and several pontifical minor basilicas in Italy, and over 1,400 lesser basilicas around the world.

Churches designated as papal basilicas, in particular, possess a papal throne and a papal high altar, at which no one may celebrate Mass without the pope's permission.[9]

Numerous basilicas are notable shrines, often even receiving significant pilgrimages, especially among the many that were built above a confessio or the burial place of a martyr – although this term now usually designates a space before the high altar that is sunk lower than the main floor level (as in the case in St Peter's and St John Lateran in Rome) and that offer more immediate access to the burial places below.

Ranking of churches

Basilica of Saint Mary-20060205
Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, MN. The first basilica established in the United States.
Catedral de Salta 1
Basilica of Salta in Argentina.

The papal or major basilicas outrank in precedence all other churches. Other rankings put the cathedral (or co-cathedral) of a bishop ahead of all other churches in the same diocese, even if they have the title of minor basilica. If the cathedral is that of a suffragan diocese, it yields precedence to the cathedral of the metropolitan see. The cathedral of a primate is considered to rank higher than that of other metropolitan(s) in his circonscription (usually a present or historical state). Other classifications of churches include collegiate churches, which may or may not also be minor basilicas.

Major or papal basilicas

To this class belong only the four great papal churches of Rome, which among other distinctions have a special "holy door" and to which a visit is always prescribed as one of the conditions for gaining the Roman Jubilee. Upon relinquishing in 2006 the title of Patriarch of the West, Pope Benedict XVI renamed these basilicas from "Patriarchal Basilicas" to "Papal Basilicas".

  • St. John Lateran, also called the Lateran Basilica, is the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.
  • St. Peter's, also called the Vatican Basilica, is a major pilgrimage site, built over the burial place of Saint Peter.
  • St. Paul Outside the Walls, also known as the Ostian Basilica because it is situated on the road that led to Ostia, is built over the burial place of Paul the Apostle.
  • St. Mary Major, also called the Liberian Basilica because the original building (not the present one) was attributed to Pope Liberius, is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The four papal or major basilicas were formerly known as "patriarchal basilicas". Together with the minor basilica of St Lawrence outside the Walls, they were associated with the five ancient patriarchal sees of Christendom (see Pentarchy): St John Lateran was associated with Rome, St Peter's with Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), St Paul's with Alexandria (in Egypt), St Mary Major with Antioch (the Levant) and St Lawrence with Jerusalem.

Minor basilicas

Le sacre coeur (paris - france)
Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris (France) is a minor basilica, but not an architectural basilica

The privileges attached to the status of minor basilica, which is conferred by papal brief, include a certain precedence before other churches, the right of the conopaeum (a baldachin resembling an umbrella; also called umbraculum, ombrellino, papilio, sinicchio, etc.) and the bell (tintinnabulum), which are carried side by side in procession at the head of the clergy on state occasions, and the cappa magna which is worn by the canons or secular members of the collegiate chapter when assisting at the Divine Office.[9] In the case of major basilicas these umbraculae are made of cloth of gold and red velvet, while those of minor basilicas are made of yellow and red silk—the colours traditionally associated with both the Papal See and the city of Rome.

Troost3
Tintinnabulum and conopaeum, one of the privileges granted to a basilica

There are five "pontifical" minor basilicas in the world (the word "pontifical" referring to the title "pontiff" of a bishop, and more particularly of the Bishop of Rome): Pontifical Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, the Pontifical Basilica of Saint Nicholas in Bari, the Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padua, the Pontifical Basilica of the Holy House at Loreto, the Pontifical Basilica of St Michael in Madrid, Spain.

Until Pope Benedict XVI, the title "patriarchal" (now "papal") was officially given to two minor basilicas[10] associated with Saint Francis of Assisi situated in or near his home town:

The description "patriarchal" still applies to two minor basilicas[10] associated with archbishops who have the title of patriarch: the Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of St Mark in Venice and the Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia.

Not all Patriarchal cathedrals are minor basilicas, notably: the Patriarchal Cathedral of St Mary Major in Lisbon, Portugal, the Patriarchal Cathedral of Santa Catarina, Old Goa, India.

Basilicas and pilgrimages

Sanktuarium Bożego Miłosierdzia
The Basilica of Divine Mercy, constructed in 2002 in Kraków, Poland, received 2 million pilgrims in 2011.[2]

In recent times, the title of minor basilica has been attributed to important pilgrimage churches. In 1999 Bishop Francesco Giogia stated that the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City (constructed in the 20th century) was the most visited Catholic shrine in the world, followed by San Giovanni Rotondo and Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil.[3] Millions of pilgrims visit the shrines of Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima. Pilgrimage basilicas continue to attract well over 30 million pilgrims per year.[3]

Every year, on 13 May and 13 October, the significant dates of the Fatima apparitions, pilgrims fill the country road that leads to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima with crowds that approach one million on each day.[11] In December 2009 the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe set a new record with 6.1 million pilgrims during Friday and Saturday for the anniversary of Our Lady of Guadalupe.[4]

Ecclesiastical basilicas by region

As of 2017, there were 1,761 churches that bore the title of basilica.[12]

Region Basilicas
Europe 1,297
South America 215
North America 164
Asia 56
Africa 22
Oceania 7
Total 1,761

See also

References and sources

References
  1. ^ "Basilicas in the World". G Catholic. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b Sacred Travels by Lester Meera 2011 ISBN 1-4405-2489-0 page 53
  3. ^ a b c "Eternal Word Television Network, Global Catholic Network". Ewtn.com. 1999-06-13. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
  4. ^ a b "Zenith News December 14, 2009". Zenit.org. Archived from the original on 13 November 2011. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  5. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art and Architecture (2013 ISBN 978-0-19968027-6), p. 117
  6. ^ "The Institute for Sacred Architecture - Articles - The Eschatological Dimension of Church Architecture". www.sacredarchitecture.org.
  7. ^ "Basilica Plan Churches". Cartage.org.lb. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  8. ^ Syndicus, 40
  9. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Gietmann, G. (1913). "Basilica" . In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  10. ^ a b The title of minor basilicas was first attributed to the church of San Nicola di Tolentino in 1783. Older minor basilicas are referred to as "immemorial basilica".
  11. ^ Trudy Ring, 1996, International Dictionary of Historic Places, ISBN 978-1-884964-02-2 page 245
  12. ^ Gcatholic.org (4 March 2013). "Basilicas in the World". Archived from the original on 4 March 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
Sources

External links

Archbasilica of St. John Lateran

The Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior and of Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in the Lateran, (Italian: Santissimo Salvatore e Santi Giovanni Battista ed Evangelista in Laterano) – also known as the Papal Archbasilica of St. John [in] Lateran, St. John Lateran, or the Lateran Basilica – is the cathedral church of Rome and serves as the seat of the Roman Pontiff.

It is the oldest and highest ranking of the four papal major basilicas, giving it the unique title of "archbasilica". Because it is the oldest public church in the city of Rome, it is the oldest and most important basilica of the Western world, and houses the cathedra of the Roman bishop, it has the title of ecumenical mother church of the Catholic faithful.

The current archpriest is Angelo De Donatis, Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome. The President of the French Republic, currently Emmanuel Macron, is ex officio the "first and only honorary canon" of the archbasilica, a title that the heads of state of France have possessed since King Henry IV.

The large Latin inscription on the façade reads: Clemens XII Pont Max Anno V Christo Salvatori In Hon SS Ioan Bapt et Evang. This abbreviated inscription translates to: "Pope Clement XII, in the fifth year [of his Pontificate, dedicated this building] to Christ the Savior, in honor of Saints John the Baptist and [John] the Evangelist". The inscription indicates, with its full title (see below), that the archbasilica was originally dedicated to Christ the Savior and, centuries later, co-dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. As the Cathedral of the Pope as Bishop of Rome, it ranks superior to all other churches of the Roman Catholic Church, including St. Peter's Basilica.

The archbasilica is sited in the City of Rome. It is outside Vatican City, which is approximately 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) to its northwest, although the archbasilica and its adjoining edifices have extraterritorial status from Italy as one of the properties of the Holy See, pursuant to the Lateran Treaty of 1929.

Basilica of Saint-Denis

The Basilica of Saint Denis (French: Basilique royale de Saint-Denis, or simply Basilique Saint-Denis) is a large medieval abbey church in the city of Saint-Denis, now a northern suburb of Paris. The building is of singular importance historically and architecturally as its choir, completed in 1144, shows the first use of all of the elements of Gothic architecture.

The site originated as a Gallo-Roman cemetery in late Roman times. The archeological remains still lie beneath the cathedral; the people buried there seem to have had a faith that was a mix of Christian and pre-Christian beliefs and practices. Around 475 St. Genevieve purchased some land and built Saint-Denys de la Chapelle. In 636 on the orders of Dagobert I the relics of Saint Denis, a patron saint of France, were reinterred in the basilica. The relics of St-Denis, which had been transferred to the parish church of the town in 1795, were brought back again to the abbey in 1819.The basilica became a place of pilgrimage and the burial place of the French Kings with nearly every king from the 10th to the 18th centuries being buried there, as well as many from previous centuries. (It was not used for the coronations of kings, that function being reserved for the Cathedral of Reims; however, French Queens were commonly crowned there.) "Saint-Denis" soon became the abbey church of a growing monastic complex.

In the 12th century the Abbot Suger rebuilt portions of the abbey church using innovative structural and decorative features. In doing so, he is said to have created the first truly Gothic building. The basilica's 13th-century nave is the prototype for the Rayonnant Gothic style, and provided an architectural model for many medieval cathedrals and abbeys of northern France, Germany, England and a great many other countries.

The abbey church became a cathedral in 1966 and is the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Denis, Pascal Michel Ghislain Delannoy. Although known as the "Basilica of St Denis", the cathedral has not been granted the title of Minor Basilica by the Vatican.

Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi

The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi (Italian: Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi; Latin: Basilica Sancti Francisci Assisiensis) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor Conventual in Assisi, a town in the Umbria region in central Italy, where Saint Francis was born and died. It is a Papal minor basilica and one of the most important places of Christian pilgrimage in Italy. With its accompanying friary, Sacro Convento, the basilica is a distinctive landmark to those approaching Assisi. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000.

The basilica, which was begun in 1228, is built into the side of a hill and comprises two churches (known as the Upper Church and the Lower Church) and a crypt, where the remains of the saint are interred. The interior of the Upper Church is an important early example of the Gothic style in Italy. The Upper and Lower Churches are decorated with frescoes by numerous late medieval painters from the Roman and Tuscan schools, and include works by Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti and possibly Pietro Cavallini. The range and quality of the works give the basilica a unique importance in demonstrating the development of Italian art of this period.

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

The Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (Italian: Basilica Papale di San Paolo fuori le Mura), commonly known as St. Paul's Outside the Walls, is one of Rome's four ancient, papal, major basilicas, along with the basilicas of St. John in the Lateran, St. Peter's, and St. Mary Major.

The basilica is within Italian territory and not the territory of the Vatican City State, but the Holy See owns the Basilica, and Italy is legally obligated to recognize its full ownership and to concede to it "the immunity granted by International Law to the headquarters of the diplomatic agents of foreign States".James Michael Harvey was named Archpriest of the basilica in 2012.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and national shrine located in Washington, D.C., United States of America.

The shrine is the largest Catholic church in the United States and in North America, and the tallest habitable building in Washington, D.C. Its construction of Neo-Byzantine architecture began in 1920 with renowned contractor John McShain while the Trinity Dome mosaic marked its completion on December 8, 2017.

The basilica is the national and patronal Catholic Church of the United States, honoring the Immaculate Conception as Patroness, accorded by Pope Pius IX in 1847. Pope Pius XI donated a mosaic rendition of the image in 1923. The shrine has merited several Papal visits namely the following:

Pope John Paul II raised the National Shrine to the status of Minor Basilica on 12 October 1990.

Pope Benedict XVI bestowed a Golden Rose on 16 April 2008.

Pope Francis who canonized Saint Junípero Serra, O.F.M. on 23 September 2015.The basilica does not have its own parish community, but serves the adjacent Catholic University of America, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and hosts numerous Masses for various organizations of the Church from across the United States. The basilica is not the cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Washington (See Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle).

The rector of the shrine is the Monsignor Walter R. Rossi.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Arabic: كَنِيسَةُ ٱلْقِيَامَة‎ Kanīsatu al-Qiyāmah; Greek: Ναὸς τῆς Ἀναστάσεως Naos tes Anastaseos; Armenian: Սուրբ Հարության տաճար Surb Harut'yan tač̣ar; Latin: Ecclesia Sancti Sepulchri; Hebrew: כנסיית הקבר‎, Knesiyat ha-Kever; also called the Church of the Resurrection or Church of the Anastasis by Orthodox Christians) is a church in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The church contains, according to traditions dating back to at least the fourth century, the two holiest sites in Christianity: the site where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, at a place known as "Calvary" or "Golgotha", and Jesus' empty tomb, where he is said to have been buried and resurrected. The tomb is enclosed by the 19th-century shrine called the Aedicule (Edicule). The Status Quo, a 260-year-old understanding between religious communities, applies to the site.Within the church proper are the last four (or, by some definitions, five) Stations of the Via Dolorosa, representing the final episodes of Jesus' Passion. The church has been a major Christian pilgrimage destination since its creation in the fourth century, as the traditional site of the Resurrection of Christ, thus its original Greek name, Church of the Anastasis.

Today, the wider complex accumulated during the centuries around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre also serves as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, while control of the church itself is shared among several Christian denominations and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for over 160 years, and some for much longer. The main denominations sharing property over parts of the church are the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic, and to a lesser degree the Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox. Meanwhile, Protestants, including Anglicans, have no permanent presence in the Church. Some Protestants prefer the Garden Tomb, elsewhere in Jerusalem, as a more evocative site to commemorate Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

Michelangelo

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni or more commonly known by his first name Michelangelo (; Italian: [mikeˈlandʒelo di lodoˈviːko ˌbwɔnarˈrɔːti siˈmoːni]; 6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564) was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance born in the Republic of Florence, who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. Considered by many the greatest artist of his lifetime, and by some the greatest artist of all time, his artistic versatility was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival, the fellow Florentine and client of the Medici, Leonardo da Vinci.A number of Michelangelo's works of painting, sculpture and architecture rank among the most famous in existence. His output in these fields was prodigious; given the sheer volume of surviving correspondence, sketches and reminiscences, he is the best-documented artist of the 16th century. He sculpted two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, before the age of thirty. Despite holding a low opinion of painting, he also created two of the most influential frescoes in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and The Last Judgment on its altar wall. His design of the Laurentian Library pioneered Mannerist architecture. At the age of 74, he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter's Basilica. He transformed the plan so that the western end was finished to his design, as was the dome, with some modification, after his death.

Michelangelo was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive. In fact, two biographies were published during his lifetime. One of them, by Giorgio Vasari, proposed that Michelangelo's work transcended that of any artist living or dead, and was "supreme in not one art alone but in all three".In his lifetime, Michelangelo was often called Il Divino ("the divine one"). His contemporaries often admired his terribilità—his ability to instil a sense of awe. Attempts by subsequent artists to imitate Michelangelo's impassioned, highly personal style resulted in Mannerism, the next major movement in Western art after the High Renaissance.

Minor basilica

A minor basilica (Latin: Basilica minor, Basilicæ minores in plural) is a Catholic church building that has been granted the title of basilica by the Holy See or immemorial custom. Presently, the authorising decree is granted by the Pope through the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

In relation to churches, writers on architecture use the term "basilica" to describe a church built in a particular style. The early Christian purpose-built cathedral basilica of the bishop was in this style, constructed on the model of the semi-public secular basilicas, and its growth in size and importance signalled the gradual transfer of civic power into episcopal hands, which was under way in the 5th century.

In the 18th century, the term took on a canonical sense, unrelated to this architectural style. Basilicas in this canonical sense are divided into major ("greater") and minor basilicas. Today only four, all in Rome, are classified as major basilicas.

Old St. Peter's Basilica

Old St. Peter's Basilica was the building that stood, from the 4th to 16th centuries, where the new St. Peter's Basilica stands today in Vatican City. Construction of the basilica, built over the historical site of the Circus of Nero, began during the reign of Emperor Constantine I. The name "old St. Peter's Basilica" has been used since the construction of the current basilica to distinguish the two buildings.

Sacré-Cœur, Paris

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur (French: Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, pronounced [sakʁe kœʁ]), is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris, France. A popular landmark and the second most visited monument in Paris, the basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. Sacré-Cœur is a double monument, political and cultural, both a national penance for the defeat of France in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and the socialist Paris Commune of 1871 crowning its most rebellious neighborhood, and an embodiment of conservative moral order, publicly dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ.The basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was completed in 1914. The basilica was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919.

Sagrada Família

The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Catalan pronunciation: [səˈɣɾaðə fəˈmili.ə]; Spanish: Basílica y Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia; English: Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family) is a large unfinished Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Gaudí's work on the building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica, as distinct from a cathedral, which must be the seat of a bishop.

In 1882, construction of Sagrada Família started under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. In 1883, when Villar resigned, Gaudí took over as chief architect, transforming the project with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted the remainder of his life to the project, and he is buried in the crypt. At the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, when he was run down by a tram, less than a quarter of the project was complete.Relying solely on private donations, Sagrada Familia's construction progressed slowly and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War. In July 1936, revolutionaries set light to the crypt and broke their way into the workshop, partially destroying Gaudí's original plans, drawings and plaster models, which led to 16 years work to piece together the fragments of the master model. Construction resumed to intermittent progress in the 1950s. Since commencing construction in 1882, advancements in technologies such as computer aided design and computerised numerical control (CNC) have enabled faster progress and construction passed the midpoint in 2010. However, some of the project's greatest challenges remain, including the construction of ten more spires, each symbolising an important Biblical figure in the New Testament. It is anticipated that the building can be completed by 2026—the centenary of Gaudí's death.

The basilica has a long history of dividing the citizens of Barcelona: over the initial possibility it might compete with Barcelona's cathedral, over Gaudí's design itself, over the possibility that work after Gaudí's death disregarded his design, and the 2007 proposal to build a tunnel of Spain's high-speed rail link to France which could disturb its stability. Describing Sagrada Família, art critic Rainer Zerbst said "it is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art", and Paul Goldberger describes it as "the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages".

San Lorenzo, Florence

The Basilica di San Lorenzo (Basilica of St Lawrence) is one of the largest churches of Florence, Italy, situated at the centre of the city’s main market district, and the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III. It is one of several churches that claim to be the oldest in Florence; when it was consecrated in 393 it stood outside the city walls. For three hundred years it was the city's cathedral before the official seat of the bishop was transferred to Santa Reparata. San Lorenzo was also the parish church of the Medici family. In 1419, Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici offered to finance a new church to replace the 11th-century Romanesque rebuilding. Filippo Brunelleschi, the leading Renaissance architect of the first half of the 15th century, was commissioned to design it, but the building, with alterations, was not completed until after his death. The church is part of a larger monastic complex that contains other important architectural and artistic works: the Old Sacristy by Brunelleschi, with interior decoration and sculpture by Donatello; the Laurentian Library by Michelangelo; the New Sacristy based on Michelangelo's designs; and the Medici Chapels by Matteo Nigetti.

Santa Croce, Florence

The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan church in Florence, Italy, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 meters south-east of the Duomo. The site, when first chosen, was in marshland outside the city walls. It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, the poet Foscolo, the philosopher Gentile and the composer Rossini, thus it is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell'Itale Glorie).

Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Italian pronunciation: [ˈsanta maˈriːa madˈdʒoːre]; Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Latin: Basilica Sanctae Mariae Maioris), or church of Santa Maria Maggiore, is a Papal major basilica and the largest Catholic Marian church in Rome, Italy.

The basilica enshrines the venerated image of Salus Populi Romani, depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary as the help and protectress of the Roman people, which was granted a Canonical coronation by Pope Gregory XVI on 15 August 1838 accompanied by his Papal bull Cælestis Regina.

Pursuant to the Lateran Treaty of 1929 between the Holy See and Italy, the Basilica is within Italian territory and not the territory of the Vatican City State. However, the Holy See fully owns the Basilica, and Italy is legally obligated to recognize its full ownership thereof and to concede to it "the immunity granted by International Law to the headquarters of the diplomatic agents of foreign States."

St. Peter's Basilica

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican (Italian: Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano), or simply St. Peter's Basilica (Latin: Basilica Sancti Petri), is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome.

Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter's is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world. While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peter's is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom".Catholic tradition holds that the Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, chief among Jesus's Apostles and also the first Bishop of Rome. Saint Peter's tomb is supposedly directly below the high altar of the Basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St. Peter's since the Early Christian period, and there has been a church on this site since the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica, which would replace Old St. Peter's Basilica from the 4th century AD, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.St. Peter's is famous as a place of pilgrimage and for its liturgical functions. The Pope presides at a number of liturgies throughout the year, drawing audiences of 15,000 to over 80,000 people, either within the Basilica or the adjoining St. Peter's Square. St. Peter's has many historical associations, with the Early Christian Church, the Papacy, the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-reformation and numerous artists, especially Michelangelo. As a work of architecture, it is regarded as the greatest building of its age. St. Peter's is one of the four churches in the world that hold the rank of Major Basilica, all four of which are in Rome. Contrary to popular misconception, it is not a cathedral because it is not the seat of a bishop; the Cathedra of the Pope as Bishop of Rome is in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Square (Italian: Piazza San Pietro [ˈpjattsa sam ˈpjɛːtro], Latin: Forum Sancti Petri) is a large plaza located directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, the papal enclave inside Rome, directly west of the neighbourhood or rione of Borgo. Both the square and the basilica are named after Saint Peter, an apostle of Jesus considered to be the first Pope.

At the centre of the square is an ancient Egyptian obelisk, erected at the current site in 1586. Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed the square almost 100 years later, including the massive Doric colonnades, four columns deep, which embrace visitors in "the maternal arms of Mother Church". A granite fountain constructed by Bernini in 1675 matches another fountain designed by Carlo Maderno in 1613.

St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica, Chennai

San Thome Church, also known as St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica and International Shrine of Saint Thomas is a Roman Catholic (Latin Rite) minor basilica in Santhome, in the city of Chennai (Madras), India. It was built in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers, over the tomb of Saint Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. In 1893, it was rebuilt as a church with the statue of a cathedral by the British. The British version still stands today. It was designed in Neo-Gothic style, favoured by British architects in the late 19th century. This church is one of the only three known churches in the world built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus, the other two being St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City and Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia, Spain.

St Mark's Basilica

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark (Italian: Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco), commonly known as Saint Mark's Basilica (Italian: Basilica di San Marco; Venetian: Baxéłega de San Marco), is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. It lies at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, adjacent and connected to the Doge's Palace. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has been the city's cathedral only since 1807, when it became the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, formerly at San Pietro di Castello.For its opulent design, gold ground mosaics, and its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, from the 11th century on the building has been known by the nickname Chiesa d'Oro (Church of gold).

Vatican City

Vatican City ( (listen)), officially Vatican City State (Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano; Latin: Status Civitatis Vaticanae), is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. Established with the Lateran Treaty (1929), it is distinct from yet under "full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction" of the Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes). With an area of 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest state in the world by both area and population.

The Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state (a type of theocracy) ruled by the pope who is, religiously speaking, the bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins. Since the return of the popes from Avignon in 1377, they have generally resided at the Apostolic Palace within what is now Vatican City, although at times residing instead in the Quirinal Palace in Rome or elsewhere.

The Holy See dates back to early Christianity, and is the primate episcopal see of the Catholic Church, with 1.3 billion Catholics around the world distributed in the Latin Church and 23 Eastern Catholic Churches. The independent Vatican City-state, on the other hand, came into existence in 11 February 1929 by the Lateran Treaty between the Holy See and Italy, which spoke of it as a new creation, not as a vestige of the much larger Papal States (756–1870), which had previously encompassed much of central Italy.

Within the Vatican City are religious and cultural sites such as St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. They feature some of the world's most famous paintings and sculptures. The unique economy of Vatican City is supported financially by the sale of postage stamps and souvenirs, fees for admission to museums, and sales of publications.

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