The Basilica of Saint Mary
June 26, 2017
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The Basilica of Saint Mary
We are located on Hennepin Avenue between 16th & 17th Streets in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Phone: 612.333.1381
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Recent Publications
· Weekly Newsletter
  January 16, 2014
· Parish Bulletin
  December 27, 2013
· BASILICA Magazine
  December 6, 2013
Today's Reading
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time



In the early Church there was a close connection between the sacraments of initiation and the sacrament of reconciliation. The Order of Penitents mirrored the Order of Catechumens. The former consisted of those who had sinned against God and the Church, were expelled from the Church and preparing to return. The latter consisted of those who were preparing to be received into the Church through the sacraments of initiation. The early fathers sometimes referred to reconciliation as a mini-baptism.

The ritual moments of the Order of Penitents was very public. Sinners were expelled from the Church, sprinkled with ashes, made to wear sackcloth and then received back into the Church by the bishop.

By the sixth century, the Order of Penitents had mostly disappeared and was gradually replaced with individual confessions and private penance, popularized throughout Europe by Irish monks. This shift in practice was accompanied by a shift in thinking. A highly communal understanding of conversion, penance and reconciliation was replaced with a much more individualistic view. It was not until the tenth century that absolution became part of the sacrament, as a way to mark the return of the penitent into the fullness of the Church.

In 1215, the Lateran Council imposed the requirement of an Easter confession or annual confession. It was not until the twentieth century that the communal aspect of this sacrament would be rediscovered. The theology of the revised rite of 1972 and the incorporation of communal celebrations of the sacrament testify to this.


The sacrament is known as reconciliation, penance or confession; each of these words have a slightly differing meaning. Reconciliation emphasizes the fact that a person is reconciled with God and the Church upon reception of the sacrament. Penance refers to the penitent's conversion, which is necessary in order to celebrate the sacrament fruitfully. Confession is derived from the part of the sacrament where the penitents confess their personal sins.

Indeed, the sacrament of reconciliation relies upon a sense of ongoing conversion, a desire to repent and a need to be reconciled with God and the community. These three movements will free an individual from the alienation and isolation caused by sin.

© Sacrament of Reconciliation »
A Taizé Prayer Service with opportunity for individual confession is held monthly in the undercroft, from September through May. – Photo by Michael Jensen. [Close]

Preparing for Reconciliation

For more information on how to prepare for the sacrament of Reconciliation at the Basilica of Saint Mary, or for information on how to sign up, please visit our Learning page .

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