Photo provided by: 
Michael Jensen

The Basilica

The Basilica of Saint Mary

Our church was commissioned by Archbishop Ireland (1838-1918) and designed by French architect Emmanuel Masqueray (1861-1917) in a beaux-arts style. It was intended to house the relocated parish of the Immaculate Conception, founded in 1868.

The building was constructed between 1907-1915. Interior work, begun in 1922, was near completion when Pope Pius XI named the church the first Basilica in the United States on February 1, 1926.

High Altar

The marble altar and baldachin (the canopy over the altar) were designed by Boston architects Maginnis & Walsh, and handcrafted at the Benziger Brothers Studios in Pietrasanta, Italy. Monsignor Reardon describes his vision for the altar in his history of the Basilica: "In finishing the church the major problem was, of course, the main altar. On its solution everything else depended; for the altar would give meaning and tone to all the rest... For that, the finest marble that money could procure must be available, and the most skillful sculptors commissioned to chisel it into life... The altar must be one of the finest in America in material, design and workmanship."

Wrought iron grill

The elaborate wrought iron grille surrounding the sanctuary was fabricated by the Flour City Ornamental Iron Company of Minneapolis.  It contains symbols and stories of the life of Mary. The cipollino marble pillars supporting the grillwork were imported from Italy.

Statues of the Apostles

The marble statues surrounding the Sanctuary depict the apostles. Carved in Italy, they are half size copies of those in St. John Lateran, Cathedral of Rome. 

Shrine of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

Part of the 1999-2000 renovation, this new chapel was created at the south end of the building.

The statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception was dedicated on March 26, 1876 in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.  It was brought here when the parish moved to The Basilica. The statue, originally polychrome, was restored to its present state after vandalism to the church in 1981.

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Part of the 1999-2000 renovation, this new chapel was created at the south end of the building.

The mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe was dedicated in 2005. It was created in the Vatican Mosaic studios after the original image that is venerated in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

Shrine of the Sacred Heart

The carrara marble statue of the Sacred Heart in this chapel was previously housed in the church of the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn. A wooden, polychrome statue of the Sacred Heart which was brought here from the Church of the Immaculate Conception can be found in the narthex.

Shrine of Saint Anne

This chapel has long been a pilgrimage site to St. Anne, mother of Mary. Her relics are buried in the altar. The statue in the chapel depicts St. Anne who is teaching her daughter, Mary.

Shrine of Our Lady of La'Vang

This chapel was originally dedicated to St. John Vianny, who now is featured in our Vocation Garden on the east side of the Basilica. The Statue of Our Lady of La'Vang was procured by Fr. Michael O'Connell, former pastor of the Basilica, during a trip to Vietnam. Our Lady of La'Vang is the patroness of Vietnam.

Shrine of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

A new and popular saint in the early 20th C. St. Thérèse of Lisieux, also know as The Little Flower, is depicted in her Carmelite habit gazing upon the crucifix while holding roses.

Shrine of St. Anthony

This Shrine was originally intended to be dedicated to St. Patrick, as the wall carving of the clover and the snake (symbols of St. Patrick) as well as the relic of St. Patrick, buried in the altar suggest. Never-the-less, the shrine now houses a statue of St. Anthony, patron saint of finding things and lost people.

Shrine of St. Joseph

The statue of St. Joseph in this chapel is shown holding a flowering staff. According to the tradition, when the priests were looking for a suitable husband for Mary they gave all eligible men a dead branch to hold. When St.  Joseph took it in his hand it started to bloom. This was interpreted as a sign that he was to become the husband of Mary.

Saint Joseph Chapel

Built as part of the 1999-2000 development of The Basilica Undercroft, this chapel is located on ground level and was dedicated in 2000.  Although very modern in its layout, materials and architectural detailing, the greatest care was taken in visually relating this chapel, dedicated to the husband of Mary and foster-father of Jesus, with The Basilica of Saint Mary.

Reconciliation Chapels

The first of these two chapels is dedicated to Saint Augustine, known for his dramatic conversion from a life of sin. The other is dedicated to Saint Hildegard of Bingen, the great reconciler of the twelfth century.

The reconciliation chapels are designed to enhance the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The light piercing through the walls, the gilded domed ceiling, and the rough walls speak to the meeting of human sinfulness and divine love and forgiveness in this sacrament.