PHILADELPHIA – The Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal welcomed religious leaders and worshippers from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Vincentian family, and the global Catholic community for a Mass of Thanksgiving April 29, celebrating the Shrine’s recent elevation by Pope Francis, to minor basilica.
Mass commemorates designation of Phila. shrine as a minor basilica
Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez, Archbishop of Philadelphia, was the principal celebrant of the Mass and Vincentian Father Stephen M. Grozio, provincial of the Vincentians of the Eastern Province, preached the homily. During the Mass, Mary Jo Timlin-Hoag, CEO of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal (CAMM), recited the Decree of Concession through which the Vatican formally recognized the shrine as a minor basilica.
“We are blessed and honored that the Holy Father has recognized, through his Decree of Concession, The Basilica Shrine’s singular and enduring legacy of vibrant Marian-focused ministry within the Archdiocese and around the world,” Father Lyons said. “As a minor basilica, the shrine will only grow its outreach serving the spiritual and pastoral needs of the faithful, bringing families closer to Christ through Our Blessed Mother.”
Archbishop Pérez said: “It is with utmost joy and enthusiasm that I join the Vincentian Priests and Brothers and the worship community of The Basilica Shrine in the celebration of Holy Mass and the adoption of the Holy Father’s Decree of Concession. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is extremely blessed to be the home of this world-renowned beacon of devotion to Our Blessed Mother. I congratulate the Vincentians and all those who participate in and support their ministry.”
The Basilica Shrine, a Marian devotional destination founded and ministered by the Germantown-based Vincentian priests and brothers, is the second minor basilica in the Archdiocese and the 92nd in the United States. Through this title, the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the shrine for its special bond with the Supreme Pontiff and for its extensive history of religious, artistic, and architectural significance within the Archdiocese and globally.
The April 29 Mass marked the culmination of years of preparation, research, and reporting to the Vatican by CAMM in collaboration with the Vincentians. The shrine is now recognized as an exemplar of liturgical and pastoral action within the Archdiocese. Minor basilicas are given prominence among other churches and shrines, receive certain honorifics, and are tasked with special responsibilities. The central functions of a basilica are rooted in the sacramental life of the Church as a site of pilgrimage, a historical landmark, and a house of significant sacred art.
The minor basilica title affords the shrine certain privileges and responsibilities, principally the celebration of the feast of the Chair of St. Peter; the solemnity of the Holy Apostles, Peter, and Paul; and the anniversary and inauguration of the sitting pope’s election into pastoral ministry. Additionally, since the designation denotes a special bond of communion with the residing pope, the Basilica Shrine may grant plenary indulgence, that is, the removal of all temporal consequences of sin to individuals, which remain even after the person’s sin has been forgiven.
The building’s Romanesque-style architecture, murals, stained-glass windows, marble altars, sculptures, sanctuary floor, Mary’s Central Shrine, side altars, minor shrines and exquisite artwork could not be replicated today. Artists, artisans, and local laborers helped build the shrine and create its stunning religious artwork.
During the service, the Basilica Shrine unveiled the traditional symbols of a basilica, including the ombrellino, a canopy of yellow and red silk, and the tintinnabulum, a bell mounted on a pole used to signal papal visits. Together, these objects comprise the Papal Insignia. Moving forward, The Basilica Shrine will also hold the privilege of displaying Vatican City’s coat of arms on its façade and the crossed keys of St. Peter on its furnishings and liturgical appointments.
As a ministry of the Congregation of the Mission priests and brothers—familiarly known as the Vincentians—The Basilica Shrine has held historical significance in the Philadelphia area, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and the Eastern United States for more than 140 years.
The Vincentians, who were founded by St. Vincent de Paul in 1625, arrived in Philadelphia in 1841, where they established a seminary in the city’s Germantown section, including construction of a chapel for use by the priests and seminarians. At the request of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Vincentians modified their plans for the chapel and in 1878 opened its doors for liturgical celebrations and pastoral assistance for the poor, working class and largely immigrant residents of the surrounding neighborhood, who at the time did not have a parish church.
In 1927, under the leadership of Father Joseph A. Skelly, he Vincentians commissioned an expansion of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception for the creation of a shrine to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, a title of the Blessed Mother originating with her apparitions to St. Catherine Labouré at the Motherhouse Chapel of the Daughters of Charity in Paris in 1830.
In 1930, Father Skelly established the Perpetual Novena of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, a devotion that has been prayed at the shrine every Monday since then and continues every Monday at the Basilica Shrine.
Throughout their presence in Philadelphia, the Vincentians have served as archdiocesan educators at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary (1847-1853) and as pastors at parishes throughout the Archdiocese, and in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
To learn more about the Basilica Shrine, visit www.miraculousmedal.org.