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Basilicas: Description (3)

Churches which for their singular dignity and importance
for the pastoral and liturgical life of an area
enjoy special prerogatives.


Basilicas: How do they get designation, historically? (2)

They have either had this for time immemorial

or were given it by the Holy See.


Basilicas: Major (7) and Patriarchal (5)

There are 7 major Basilicas [patriarchal basilicas]. In Rome there are 5: St. John Lateran, Mary Major, St. Peters, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, and St Laurence Outside the Walls. The other two are in Assisi: St. Francis and Santa Maria Degli Angeli. All other Basilicas are known as minor basilicas.


Basilicas: Who confers title?

The title Basilica is conferred by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.


Basilicas: Conditions for being named (4):

Short form: dedication, liturgical/pastoral center, noteworthy, priests

• The Church must have been dedicated to God with a liturgical rite.
• It needs to be a center of liturgical and pastoral life in the diocese
• The Church must be well known in the diocese whether for having the relics of a saint or some famous image or architecture that draws the faithful to visit
• There needs to be a sufficient number of priests there dedicated to liturgical and pastoral needs.


Basilicas: Documents to be presented for consideration (5):

Short form: petition, nihil obstat, history, photos, questionnaire

• Petition of the Ordinary of the place
• The consent [nihil-obstat] of the National Episcopal Conference
• The history of the church
• Photographs of the inside and outside of the church
• The completed questionnaire from the Congregation which includes detailed questions about the building, its history, its liturgical life, and its pastoral works


Basilicas: Duties of a Basilica (4):

Short form: lit. formation, lit. celebration, lit. participation, Roman feasts (3)

• Promote liturgical formation of the faithful
• Liturgical celebrations must be beautiful and dignified
• Must promote the active participation of the faithful in the liturgy
• In order to underline the unity with St Peters in Rome, it must celebrate every year the Feast of St Peter, the Feast of Peter and Paul, and the anniversary of the Election of the Pope


Basilicas: Rights of a basilica (3):

Short form: feast day, seals, Mozzetta

• A feast on the day of being named a minor basilica, as well as on the day of the dedication of the Basilica, the name day of the Basilica, the Solemnity fo St Peter and Paul etc… at all of which the faithful attending can receive a plenary indulgence
• In the Seal can be used the keys indicating its papal status and the umbrella signifying its status as a basilica.
• The rector is able to use a black mozzetta with red piping


Reduction: Which canon governs?



Reduction: Two conditions of 1222:

The first regards when a church is beyond repair, and the second regards other grave reasons. If a church cannot be used in any way and there is no possibility of repair, the diocesan bishop can relegate it to profane but not sordid use. For other grave reasons, the diocesan bishop can relegate it to profane but not sordid use only after meeting three conditions: (1) he must hear the presbyteral council [required for validity per can 127] (2) he must gain the consent of those who legitimately claim rights over that church (3) the good of souls must suffer no detriment


Reduction: Talk about "beyond repair" and numbers of grave causes

In the first case of a church beyond repair, it refers to the relative impossibility of restoring the church to worship, not an absolute impossibility. In the second case, it requires a grave cause. Usually, a single cause is not sufficient in itself. So, for example, a lack of money is in itself not a grave cause. Suppression of a parish by itself does not justify the reduction of a church to profane use. A grave cause often comes at the confluence of many reasons.


Reduction: Who gives consent?

When speaking of the need of the consent of those with rights does not mean that every parishioner or every major donor must give consent. These individuals are not considered to have individual rights over the church.


Reduction: Do altars lose dedication? Explain.

Another thing to be aware of is that per canon 1238 p. 2, when a church is reduced to profane use, the altar does not lose its dedication. The altar must be removed or destroyed.


Reduction: What is profane but not sordid?

Short form: two issues: morality and christianity

What does it mean to say profane but not sordid use? It means that the church can not be allowed to be used for anything contrary to morality. It also cannot be used for anything contrary to Christianity. Therefore, jurisprudence has shown that it can not be allowed to be used as a Mormon or Islamic worship space.


Dedication: History

Periods: ancient, hebrews, pre-313, after 313, after WWII

Dedicating things is an ancient concept, known both to the pagan and Jewish world. In the OT, for example, we see the rededication and blessing of the Temple which is still celebrated annually as the feast of Hanukkah (1 Mac 4:36-59).

In the early days of Christianity, there were no official churches. Eventually, when Christianity was legalized, they began building churches and celebrating the dedication of these churches every year. After this, specific rites were developed for dedicating churches. These rites developed over time, eventually solidifying in the rite found in the Tridentine form. After the destruction of WWII, as new churches were being built throughout Europe, bishops asked for a more abbreviated rite which eventually emerged after Vatican II.


Dedication: c. 1217:

Short form: dedicated, blessed, 17 code, cathedrals/parishes

Can 1217 says that new churches should be dedicated or at least blessed as soon as possible after being built. In the 17 code, churches of wood or metal could only be blessed, but this restriction no loner remains. Instead, the church should only be blessed if it is only going to be used temporarily for divine worship. [For example, mass is being hekld in what will eventually become the gym]. Cathedrals and parishes are always to be dedicated by the solemn rite.


Dedication: C. 1218:

Short form: title, 1211, mass before dedication, minister, extras in rite, indispensable part of rite

Canon 1218 states that each church must have a title which cannot be changed after the church is dedicated. Can 1211 states that if sacrilege happens in the church after this, a penitential rite must be performed. A mass shouldn’t be celebrated in a church before its dedication. This is because part of the dedication rite involves the celebration of the Eucharist. This is the only indispensable part of the rite. To this is added the prayer of dedication and other rituals. The anointing with oil, incense, 12 candles, and other rituals can be omitted if necessary for grave reasons. The minister of the dedication is the diocesan bishop. It can be delegated to another bishop, and, if absolutely necessary, to a priest.


Dedication: Relics (4)

If relics are placed under the altar: (1) They should be large enough to leave no doubt that it is from a body (2) the relics must be authenticated (3) the relics should be under the altar (4) relics of martyrs are preferred


Dedication: Celebration and Day

The dedication should be a joyous celebration which is attended by the faithful. It should be on Sunday if possible. A dedication cannot occur on the Triduum, Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension, Pentecost, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, or All Saints. For the anniversary of its dedication: (1) it is a cathedral, it is a solemnity for the cathedral and a feast for all other churches in the diocese (2) for a parish church, it is a solemnity for that church.


Dedication: Necessary Documents: (2)

After the dedication, a document needs to be drawn up witnessing to the dedication (cf can 1208) which is signed by the Bishop and pastor and is placed in the diocesan and parochial archives. If relics are added to the altar, there needs to be a document with this information and the documentation of the relics. In addition there should be something in the church indicating the date of the dedication. If later it is discovered that these documents are missing, per can. 1209 one trustworthy witness can give testimony as long as this testimony harms no one.


Dedication: Juridic Effects: (3)

The juridic effects are as follows: The church becomes a sacred space and cannot be used for profane use contrary to its dedication. It is stably designated for divine worship and all acts of divine worship may be carried out there. The ecclesiastical authority has the right to exercise their authority over the church, especially in regard to the three-fold munera of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling.


Dedication: Naming considerations

In regards to the naming of the church, the naming is juridically linked with the dedication. In order to be dedicated and blessed it must have a name and this title cannot be changed after a dedication (cf. can 1218). Despite the name, it is important to remember that every church is dedicated to God, and not the saint whose name the church bears. The feast of the church’s dedication is a Solemnity of the Lord, not a solemnity of that saint. A church cannot take the name of a Blessed without the indult of the Holy See UNLESS that Blessed is legitimately on the local calendar.
By rule, the name is chosen at the laying of the first stone and is confirmed at the dedication (keeping in mind that a church which has only been blessed can have the name changed). Generally, but not always, the name of the Church and its patron saint correspond. The church is always dedicated in honor of a saint [unless it is dedicated to a feast or mystery], but it is truly dedicated to God [D.O.M.] sub invocation beati… In the end, the name serves to distinguish one church from another. The day of the patron saint should be celebrated as a solemnity, and faithful present on that day can obtain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions.


Basilica Answer Sections: (5)



Dedication, Blessing and Naming Answer Sections: (5)

Conditions (Canons)