Basilica to mark dedication centennial

| August 12, 2015 | 0 Comments
The unfinished interior of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis on Easter 1915, five months before its dedication. The parish is celebrating the dedication centennial Aug. 16. Courtesy the Basilica of St. Mary.

The unfinished interior of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis on Easter 1915, five months before its dedication. The parish is celebrating the dedication centennial Aug. 16. Courtesy the Basilica of St. Mary.

Seven years after the laying of its cornerstone, the Pro-Cathedral of St. Mary — now known as the Basilica of St. Mary, the co-cathedral of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis — was solemnly dedicated in Minneapolis Aug. 15, 1915, the feast of the Assumption of Mary.

The Basilica is celebrating the dedication’s centennial Aug. 16 at its 7:30, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Masses, which will feature choirs returning from summer break. The liturgies will be followed by games, crafts and ice cream. The event concludes with Gregorian vespers led by the Rose Ensemble at 3 p.m.

The vespers coincide with the time of the dedication, where Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul sprinkled holy water around the church’s exterior perimeter and then inside its unfinished interior. The church then lacked the baldachin, stained glass windows and finished Mankato limestone walls familiar to parishioners and visitors today.

Following the blessing, Archbishop Ireland gave a homily, and the pro-cathedral’s rector, Father Thomas Cullen, offered eucharistic benediction. Newspapers reported that thousands attended the event.

“It is a glorious day, today, when we can offer to God this magnificent temple of worship,” Archbishop Ireland said in a homily where he extolled the role of Mary in history. He called for devotion to Jesus’ mother to “go beyond the church into the homes, for the ideal of life is holiness of the soul.”

Archbishop Ireland commissioned the church at the same time as the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. Emmanuel L. Masqueray designed both buildings in the Beaux Arts style.

In 1926, Pope Pius XI elevated the church to a Basilica. It was the first U.S. church to be granted the designation.

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