The Basilica of Saint Mary
July 22, 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
A map, email contact, parking information and mailing address is also available.
Weekly Musings Blog
Our pastor and staff directors share their thoughts, insights and inspirations.
Recent Publications
· Weekly Newsletter
  January 16, 2014
· Parish Bulletin
  December 27, 2013
· BASILICA Magazine
  December 6, 2013
Today's Reading
Friday of week 15 in Ordinary Time, or...


Welcome to the first designated Basilica in the United States.

Architecturally speaking, basilicas have their origin in pre-Christian buildings erected in the form of pillared halls which were used for public assemblies and for the administration of justice. The usual plan was an oblong rectangle with a broad central nave separated from side aisles by rows of columns. The walls of the nave rested on these columns and were carried up above the roofs of the side aisles to form a clerestory pierced with windows to admit light to the building. At one end of the structure was the entrance under a portico. At the other end, a semicircular vaulted niche (or apse) was separated from the main building by a screen of columns or a low balustrade. The apse was occupied by the tribune of the judge and an altar of sacrifice. They were called basilicas or “kingly” halls from the Greek basileus, meaning king.

Many buildings of this architectural type graced the Roman Forum Emperor Constantine (274-337) who adopted Christianity as state religion transformed these buildings into Christian churches and used them as models for other churches since they were well suited to this purpose. The semi-circular niche was readily occupied by the bishop and his council of priests. The high altar, usually covered with a baldachin, took the place of the raised platform of the judge. Transepts were often added between the apse and the nave for practical purposes and on account of their symbolism (giving the whole a cruciform appearance). Under the altar was the confessio, or shrine containing the relics of the titular saint.

The Basilica of Saint Mary was designed in 1906 by Emmanuel Masqueray (1861-1917), and has served the Catholics of Minneapolis since the first mass was celebrated here on May 31, 1914. The sanctuary was completed in the early 1920s by the Boston firm of Maginnis and Walsh, with additional interior finish work completed by the Minneapolis firm of Slifer and Abrahamson.

© Baldachin and Interior Dome »
Basilica Interior Dome over High Alter - Baldachin is brilliant with Venetian mosaic threaded with golden rays from the figure of a dove in a vault of azure. – Photo by Michael Jensen. [Close]

Basilica Tours

Tours are offered by Basilica docents and are available year- round (except holidays and holy week).
Sunday tours are available after the 9:30am and 11:30am Masses and begin at the front of the Basilica beneath the pulpit. For a self-guided tour, tour brochures may be found in the back of the Church.

Group tours, throughout the week, are available by request. For more information about tours or if you are planning to bring a group, please contact the Liturgy Office at 612.333.1381.

Basilica Tour Guide

You may download the Basilica's Tour Guide to learn more about our beautiful church buildings history and architecture. The Tour Guide is in the industry standard PDF form, for which you might require the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

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