The second-oldest continually operating Catholic parish in the United States has just gotten an extraordinary honor.
Pope Francis has named Ste. Anne Church in Southwest Detroit a minor basilica. Detroit Catholic reports that the the news was delivered to the congregation of the Roman Catholic parish by Monsignor Charles Kosanke during mass on March 1.
Ste. Anne is now one of only 86 churches in the U.S., and three in Michigan, to receive the designation. (The title of “major basilica” is reserved for churches in Rome.)
The honor recognizes that a place of worship carries significant historical, architectural, or spiritual importance. It also signifies that the church has a “closer relationship to the pope,” and has the right to display the papal symbol of crossed keys on its banners, furnishings, and seal.
Archbishop of Detroit Allen H. Vigneron submitted an application for the designation to Rome in July 2018.
“As our founding parish, Ste. Anne was among the first fruits of a new missionary diocese,” Vigneron said in a statement. “In the church’s designation as a basilica, it will stand as a profound reminder to all who visit of our continuing mission to unleash the Gospel in our communities.”
A special mass will be held at noon on Sunday, April 26 to mark the occasion, during which Vigneron will read the decree from the pope.
Originally Ste. Anne de Détroit, the church was founded all the way back in 1701, the same year Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Fort Pontchartrain on land that would eventually become Detroit. Father Gabriel Richard, an important figure in the history of Detroit and Michigan, was the church’s pastor from from 1798 to 1832.
It moved to its current brick and stone Gothic Revival buiding near the Ambassador Bridge in 1887. Architect Albert E. French designed the church in a classic style with grand spires, arched and rose windows with stained glass, and flying buttresses. There’s also a large, brick-paved plaza and four gargoyles on the north facade.