Basilica

Basilica

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The Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 word basilica (derived from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, βασιλική στοά
Stoa Basileios
Basileios Stoa , also Basilike Stoa , both meaning Royal Stoa, was a stoa constructed in Ancient Athens in the 5th century BC. It was located in the northwest corner of the Athenian Agora.The Royal Stoa was the headquarters of the King Archon and of the Areios Pagos council Basileios Stoa , also...

, Royal Stoa
Stoa
Stoa in Ancient Greek architecture; covered walkways or porticos, commonly for public usage. Early stoae were open at the entrance with columns, usually of the Doric order, lining the side of the building; they created a safe, enveloping, protective atmosphere.Later examples were built as two...

, the tribunal chamber
Tribunal
A tribunal in the general sense is any person or institution with the authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is called a tribunal in its title....

 of a king), was originally used to describe a Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 public building, usually located in the forum
Forum (Roman)
A forum was a public square in a Roman municipium, or any civitas, reserved primarily for the vending of goods; i.e., a marketplace, along with the buildings used for shops and the stoas used for open stalls...

 of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.

The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes. The remains of a large subterranean Neopythagorean basilica dating from the 1st century AD were found near the Porta Maggiore
Porta Maggiore
The Porta Maggiore , or Porta Prenestina, is one of the eastern gates in the ancient but well-preserved 3rd-century Aurelian Walls of Rome....

 in Rome in 1915. The stuccoes on the interior vaulting have survived, though their exact interpretation remains a matter for debate. The ground-plan of Christian basilicas in the 4th century was similar to that of this Neopythagorean basilica, which had three naves and an apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

.

After the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 became officially Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, the term, by extension, came to refer specifically to a large and important church that has been given special ceremonial rites by the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

. Thus the word retains two senses today, one architectural and the other ecclesiastical.

Modern basilicas constructed in the 20th century have become major Catholic pilgrimage sites, receiving tens of millions of visitors per year. In December 2009 the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Roman Catholic church, minor basilica and National Shrine of Mexico in the north of Mexico City. The shrine was built nearby the place where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin...

 set a new record with 6.1 million pilgrims during Friday and Saturday for the anniversary of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Architecture



The Roman basilica was a large roofed hall erected for transacting business and disposing of legal matters. As early as the time of Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

, a public basilica for transacting business had been part of any settlement that considered itself a city, used in the same way as the late mediaeval covered market houses of northern Europe, where the meeting room, for lack of urban space, was set above the arcades, however. Although their form was variable, basilicas often contained interior colonnade
Colonnade
In classical architecture, a colonnade denotes a long sequence of columns joined by their entablature, often free-standing, or part of a building....

s that divided the space, giving aisles or arcaded spaces on one or both sides, with an apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

 at one end (or less often at each end), where the magistrates sat, often on a slightly raised dais. The central aisle tended to be wide and was higher than the flanking aisles, so that light could penetrate through the clerestory
Clerestory
Clerestory is an architectural term that historically denoted an upper level of a Roman basilica or of the nave of a Romanesque or Gothic church, the walls of which rise above the rooflines of the lower aisles and are pierced with windows. In modern usage, clerestory refers to any high windows...

 windows.

The oldest known basilica, the Basilica Porcia, was built in Rome in 184 BC
184 BC
Year 184 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Pulcher and Licinus...

 by Cato the Elder
Cato the Elder
Marcus Porcius Cato was a Roman statesman, commonly referred to as Censorius , Sapiens , Priscus , or Major, Cato the Elder, or Cato the Censor, to distinguish him from his great-grandson, Cato the Younger.He came of an ancient Plebeian family who all were noted for some...

 during the time he was Censor
Censor (ancient Rome)
The censor was an officer in ancient Rome who was responsible for maintaining the census, supervising public morality, and overseeing certain aspects of the government's finances....

. Other early examples include the basilica at Pompeii (late 2nd century BC).

Probably the most splendid Roman basilica (see below) is the one begun for traditional purposes during the reign of the pagan emperor Maxentius
Maxentius
Maxentius was a Roman Emperor from 306 to 312. He was the son of former Emperor Maximian, and the son-in-law of Emperor Galerius.-Birth and early life:Maxentius' exact date of birth is unknown; it was probably around 278...

 and finished by Constantine I after 313 AD.

Basilicas in the Roman Forum

  • Basilica Porcia: first basilica built in Rome (184 BC
    184 BC
    Year 184 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Pulcher and Licinus...

    ), erected on the personal initiative and financing of the censor Marcus Porcius Cato
    Marcus Porcius Cato
    Marcus Porcius Cato may refer to:*Cato the Elder , born Marcus Porcius Priscus and then nicknamed Cato*Marcus Porcius Cato Licinianus , son of Cato the elder by his first wife...

     (Cato the Elder
    Cato the Elder
    Marcus Porcius Cato was a Roman statesman, commonly referred to as Censorius , Sapiens , Priscus , or Major, Cato the Elder, or Cato the Censor, to distinguish him from his great-grandson, Cato the Younger.He came of an ancient Plebeian family who all were noted for some...

    ) as an official building for the tribunes of the plebs
  • Aemilian Basilica
    Basilica Aemilia
    The Basilica Aemilia was a civil basilica in the Roman forum, in Rome, Italy. Today only the plan and some rebuilt elements can be seen. The Basilica was 100 meters long and about 30 meters wide...

    , built by the censor Aemilius Lepidus in 179 BC
    179 BC
    Year 179 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Flaccus and Fulvianus...

  • Julian Basilica
    Basilica Julia
    The Basilica Julia , is a structure that once stood in the Roman Forum. It was a large, ornate, public building used for meetings and other official business during the early Roman Empire. Its ruins have been excavated...

    , completed by Augustus
    Augustus
    Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

  • Basilica Opimia, erected probably by the consul Lucius Opimius
    Lucius Opimius
    Lucius Opimius was Roman consul in 121 BC, known for ordering the execution of 3,000 supporters of popular leader Gaius Gracchus without trial, using as pretext the state of emergency declared after Gracchus's recent and turbulent death....

     in 121 BC, at the same time that he restored the temple of Concord
    Temple of Concord
    The Temple of Concord in the ancient city of Rome was a temple dedicated to the Roman goddess Concordia at the western end of the Roman Forum. The temple was built in the 4th century BC as a promise towards peace after a long period of civil strife within the city...

     (Platner, Ashby 1929)
  • Basilica Sempronia, built by the censor Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus
    Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus
    Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus may refer to:*Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus , father of Tiberius and Publius Gracchus*Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus , son of the above...

     in 169 BC
    169 BC
    Year 169 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Philippus and Caepio...

  • Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine (built between 308 and 312 AD)

Palace basilicas


In the Imperial period, a basilica for large audiences also became a feature in the palaces. In the 3rd century AD, the governing elite appeared less easily in the forums. "They now tended to dominate their cities from opulent palaces and country villas, set a little apart from traditional centers of public life. Rather than retreats from public life, however, these residences were the forum made private." (Peter Brown, in Paul Veyne, 1987). Seated in the tribune of his basilica, the great man would meet his dependent clientes
Patronage in ancient Rome
Patronage was the distinctive relationship in ancient Roman society between the patronus and his client . The relationship was hierarchical, but obligations were mutual. The patronus was the protector, sponsor, and benefactor of the client...

early every morning.

A private basilica excavated at Bulla Regia
Bulla Regia
Bulla Regia is an archaeological site in northwestern Tunisia, a former Roman city near modern Jendouba. It is noted for its Hadrianic-era semi-subterranean housing, a protection from the fierce heat and effects of the sun. Many of the mosaic floors have been left in situ; others may be seen at the...

 (Tunisia), in the "House of the Hunt", dates from the first half of the 5th century. Its reception or audience hall is a long rectangular nave-like space, flanked by dependent rooms that mostly also open into one another, ending in a semi-circular apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

, with matching transept spaces. The "crossing" of the two axes was emphasized with clustered columns.

Christianization of the Roman basilica



In the 4th century, once Christianity had been decriminalized, Christians were prepared to build larger and more handsome edifices for worship than the furtive meeting places they had been using. Architectural formulas for temples were unsuitable, not simply for their pagan associations, but because pagan cult and sacrifices occurred outdoors under the open sky in the sight of the gods, with the temple, housing the cult figures and the treasury, as a backdrop. The usable model at hand, when Constantine wanted to memorialise his imperial piety, was the familiar conventional architecture of the basilicas. These had a centre nave with one aisle at each side and an apse at one end: on this raised platform sat the bishop and priests. Constantine built a basilica of this type in his palace complex at Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

, later very easily adopted for use as a church. It is a long rectangle two storeys high, with ranks of arch-headed windows one above the other, without aisles (there was no mercantile exchange in this imperial basilica) and, at the far end beyond a huge arch, the apse in which Constantine held state. Exchange the throne for an altar, as was done at Trier, and you had a church. Basilicas of this type were built not only in western Europe but also in Greece, Syria, Egypt, and Palestine. Good early examples of the architectural basilica are the Church of the Nativity
Church of the Nativity
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world. The structure is built over the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, and thus it is considered sacred by Christians...

 at Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

 (6th century AD), the church of St Elias at Thessalonica (5th century AD), and the two great basilicas at Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

.
The first basilicas with transept
Transept
For the periodical go to The Transept.A transept is a transverse section, of any building, which lies across the main body of the building. In Christian churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform building in Romanesque and Gothic Christian church architecture...

s were built under the orders of Emperor Constantine, both in Rome and his "New Rome," Constantinople:
"Around 380, Gregory Nazianzen, describing the Constantinian Church of the Holy Apostles
Church of the Holy Apostles
The Church of the Holy Apostles , also known as the Imperial Polyandreion, was a Christian church built in Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, in 550. It was second only to the Church of the Holy Wisdom among the great churches of the capital...

 at Constantinople, was the first to point out its resemblance to a cross. Because the cult of the cross
True Cross
The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a Christian tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.According to post-Nicene historians, Socrates Scholasticus and others, the Empress Helena The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a...

 was spreading at about the same time, this comparison met with stunning success." (Yvon Thébert, in Veyne, 1987)


Thus, a Christian symbolic theme was applied quite naturally to a form borrowed from civil semi-public precedents. In the later 4th century, other Christian basilicas were built in Rome: Santa Sabina
Santa Sabina
The Basilica of Saint Sabina at the Aventine is a titular minor basilica and mother church of the Roman Catholic Dominican order in Rome, Italy. Santa Sabina lies high on the Aventine Hill, beside the Tiber, close to the headquarters of theKnights of Malta....

, St John Lateran
Basilica of St. John Lateran
The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran , commonly known as St. John Lateran's Archbasilica and St. John Lateran's Basilica, is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope...

, and St Paul's Outside the Walls
Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
The Papal Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls , commonly known as St Paul's Outside the Walls, is one of four churches that are the great ancient major basilicas or papal basilicas of Rome: the basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Peter's and Saint Paul Outside the Walls...

 (4th century), and later San Clemente
Basilica di San Clemente
The Basilica of Saint Clement is a Roman Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Pope Clement I located in Rome, Italy. Archaeologically speaking, the structure is a three-tiered complex of buildings: the present basilica built just before the year 1100 during the height of the Middle Ages; beneath...

 (6th century).
A Christian basilica of the 4th or 5th century stood behind its entirely enclosed forecourt
Forecourt
In architecture a forecourt is an open area in front of a structure's entrance.In archaeology, forecourt is the name given to the area in front of certain types of chamber tomb...

 ringed with a colonnade or arcade, like the stoa
Stoa
Stoa in Ancient Greek architecture; covered walkways or porticos, commonly for public usage. Early stoae were open at the entrance with columns, usually of the Doric order, lining the side of the building; they created a safe, enveloping, protective atmosphere.Later examples were built as two...

 or peristyle
Peristyle
In Hellenistic Greek and Roman architecture a peristyle is a columned porch or open colonnade in a building surrounding a court that may contain an internal garden. Tetrastoon is another name for this feature...

 that was its ancestor or like the cloister
Cloister
A cloister is a rectangular open space surrounded by covered walks or open galleries, with open arcades on the inner side, running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth...

 that was its descendant. This forecourt was entered from outside through a range of buildings along the public street. This was the architectural ground-plan of St Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

 in Rome, until in the 15th century it was demolished to make way for a modern church built to a new plan.

In most basilicas, the central nave is taller than the aisles, forming a row of windows called a clerestory
Clerestory
Clerestory is an architectural term that historically denoted an upper level of a Roman basilica or of the nave of a Romanesque or Gothic church, the walls of which rise above the rooflines of the lower aisles and are pierced with windows. In modern usage, clerestory refers to any high windows...

. Some basilicas in the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, particularly those of Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 and Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, have a central nave only slightly higher than the two aisles and a single pitched roof covering all three. The result is a much darker interior. This plan is known as the "oriental basilica."

Famous existing examples of churches constructed in the ancient basilica style include the church at Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai , also known as Mount Horeb, Mount Musa, Gabal Musa , Jabal Musa meaning "Moses' Mountain", is a mountain near Saint Catherine in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. A mountain called Mount Sinai is mentioned many times in the Book of Exodus in the Torah and the Bible as well as the Quran...

 and the Basilica of San Vitale
Basilica of San Vitale
The Church of San Vitale — styled an "ecclesiastical basilica" in the Roman Catholic Church, though it is not of architectural basilica form — is a church in Ravenna, Italy, one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine Art and architecture in western Europe...

 in Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

.

Gradually, in the early Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 there emerged the massive Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 churches, which still retained the fundamental plan of the basilica.

Basilicas in Eastern Orthodoxy


In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the basilica is a mere architectural description of churches built in the ancient style. It bears no significance with regard to precedence or importance of the particular building or clerics associated with it. Eastern basilicas may be single-naved, or have the nave flanked by one or two pairs of lower aisles; it may have a dome in the middle: in this case it is called a "domed basilica".

Ecclesiastical basilicas



The Early Christian purpose-built basilica was the cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 basilica of the bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

, on the model of the semi-public secular basilicas, and its growth in size and importance signalled the gradual transfer of civic power into episcopal hands, which was under way in the 5th century. Basilicas in this sense are divided into classes, the major ("greater") basilicas and the minor basilicas; there are three other papal and several pontifical minor basilicas in Italy, and over 1,400 lesser basilicas around the world.

Churches designated as papal basilicas, in particular, possess a papal throne
Throne
A throne is the official chair or seat upon which a monarch is seated on state or ceremonial occasions. "Throne" in an abstract sense can also refer to the monarchy or the Crown itself, an instance of metonymy, and is also used in many expressions such as "the power behind the...

 and a papal high altar, at which no one may celebrate Mass without the pope's permission.

Numerous basilicas are notable shrine
Shrine
A shrine is a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint, daemon or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines often contain idols, relics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated....

s, often even receiving significant pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

s, especially among the many that were built above a confessio or the burial place of a martyr – although this term now usually designates a space before the high altar that is sunk lower than the main floor level (as in the case in St Peter's and St John Lateran in Rome) and that offer more immediate access to the burial places below.

Ranking of churches


The papal or major basilicas outrank in precedence all other churches. Other rankings put the cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 (or co-cathedral) of a bishop ahead of all other churches in the same diocese, even if they have the title of minor basilica. If the cathedral is that of a suffragan diocese, it yields precedence to the cathedral of the metropolitan
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

 see. The cathedral of a primate
Primate (religion)
Primate is a title or rank bestowed on some bishops in certain Christian churches. Depending on the particular tradition, it can denote either jurisdictional authority or ceremonial precedence ....

 is considered to rank higher than that of other metropolitan(s) in his circonscription (usually a present or historical state). Other classifications of churches include collegiate church
Collegiate church
In Christianity, a collegiate church is a church where the daily office of worship is maintained by a college of canons; a non-monastic, or "secular" community of clergy, organised as a self-governing corporate body, which may be presided over by a dean or provost...

es, which may or may not also be minor basilicas.

Major or papal basilicas



To this class belong only the four great papal churches of Rome, which among other distinctions have a special "holy door
Holy door
Each of the four papal basilicas in Rome has a Holy door . The doors are normally sealed shut from the inside so that they cannot be opened...

" and to which a visit is always prescribed as one of the conditions for gaining the Roman Jubilee. Upon relinquishing in 2006 the title of Patriarch of the West, Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

 renamed these basilicas from "Patriarchal Basilicas" to "Papal Basilicas".
  • St John Lateran
    Basilica of St. John Lateran
    The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran , commonly known as St. John Lateran's Archbasilica and St. John Lateran's Basilica, is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope...

    , also called the Lateran Basilica, is the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope
    Pope
    The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

    .
  • St Peter's Basilica
    St. Peter's Basilica
    The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

    , also called the Vatican Basilica, is a major pilgrimage site, built over the burial place of Saint Peter
    Saint Peter
    Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

    .
  • St Paul Outside the Walls
    Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
    The Papal Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls , commonly known as St Paul's Outside the Walls, is one of four churches that are the great ancient major basilicas or papal basilicas of Rome: the basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Peter's and Saint Paul Outside the Walls...

    , also known as the Ostian Basilica because it is situated on the road that led to Ostia
    Ostia Antica
    Ostia Antica is a large archeological site, close to the modern suburb of Ostia , that was the location of the harbour city of ancient Rome, which is approximately 30 km to the northeast. "Ostia" in Latin means "mouth". At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport, but, due to...

    , is built over the burial place of Paul the Apostle.
  • St Mary Major
    Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
    The Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major , known also by other names, is the largest Roman Catholic Marian church in Rome, Italy.There are other churches in Rome dedicated to Mary, such as Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, but the greater size of the...

    , also called the Liberian Basilica because the original building (not the present one) was attributed to Pope Liberius
    Pope Liberius
    Pope Liberius, pope from May 17, 352, to September 24, 366, was consecrated according to the Catalogus Liberianus on May 22, as the successor of Pope Julius I. He was regarded as a saint in the early Church, but his name was later removed from the Roman Martyrology, however, he is once again...

    , is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary
    Mary (mother of Jesus)
    Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

    .


The four papal or major basilicas were formerly known as "patriarchal basilicas". Together with the minor basilica of St Lawrence outside the Walls, they were associated with the five ancient patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

al sees of Christendom (see Pentarchy
Pentarchy
Pentarchy is a term in the history of Christianity for the idea of universal rule over all Christendom by the heads of five major episcopal sees, or patriarchates, of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem...

): St John Lateran was associated with Rome, St Peter's with Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 (present-day Istanbul), St Paul's with Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 (in Egypt), St Mary Major with Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 (the Levant) and St Lawrence with Jerusalem
Jerusalem in Christianity
For Christians, Jerusalem's place in the ministry of Jesus and the Apostolic Age gives it great importance, in addition to its place in the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible.-Jerusalem in the New Testament and early Christianity:...

.

Minor and immemorial basilicas


The privilege
Privilege
A privilege is a special entitlement to immunity granted by the state or another authority to a restricted group, either by birth or on a conditional basis. It can be revoked in certain circumstances. In modern democratic states, a privilege is conditional and granted only after birth...

s attached to the status of minor basilica, which is conferred by papal brief
Papal brief
The Papal Brief is a formal document emanating from the Pope, in a somewhat simpler and more modern form than a Papal Bull.-History:The introduction of briefs, which occurred at the beginning of the pontificate of Pope Eugenius IV , was clearly prompted for the same desire for greater simplicity...

, include a certain precedence before other churches, the right of the conopaeum (a baldachin
Baldachin
A baldachin, or baldaquin , is a canopy of state over an altar or throne. It had its beginnings as a cloth canopy, but in other cases it is a sturdy, permanent architectural feature, particularly over high altars in cathedrals, where such a structure is more correctly called a ciborium when it is...

 resembling an umbrella; also called umbraculum, ombrellino, papilio, sinicchio, etc.) and the bell (tintinnabulum
Tintinnabulum
A Tintinnabulum is a bell mounted on a pole, placed in a Roman Catholic Basilica to signify the church's link with the Pope.-History:In the Middle Ages it served the practical function of alerting the people of Rome to the approach of the Pope during papal processions....

), which are carried side by side in procession at the head of the clergy on state occasions, and the cappa magna which is worn by the canons
Canon (priest)
A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

 or secular members of the collegiate chapter when assisting at the Divine Office
Liturgy of the hours
The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office is the official set of daily prayers prescribed by the Catholic Church to be recited at the canonical hours by the clergy, religious orders, and laity. The Liturgy of the Hours consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns and readings...

. In the case of major basilicas these umbraculae are made of cloth of gold
Cloth of gold
Cloth of gold is a fabric woven with a gold-wrapped or spun weft - referred to as "a spirally spun gold strip". In most cases, the core yarn is silk wrapped with a band or strip of high content gold filé...

 and red velvet, while those of minor basilicas are made of yellow and red silk—the colours traditionally associated with both the Papal See and the city of Rome.
Roman Catholic basilicas in the world. In 2010, 1588 churches bear the title of basilica.
Region Total 1583


There are four "pontifical" minor basilicas in the world (the word "pontifical" meaning "papal", referring to the title pontifex maximus
Pontifex Maximus
The Pontifex Maximus was the high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post...

): Pontifical Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii
Pompeii
The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning...

, the Pontifical Basilica of Saint Nicholas
Basilica di San Nicola (Bari)
The Basilica di San Nicola is a church in Bari, southern Italy, that holds wide religious significance throughout Europe and the Christian world...

 in Bari
Bari
Bari is the capital city of the province of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas...

, the Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony
Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua
The Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica in Padua, northern Italy. Although the Basilica is visited as a place of pilgrimage by people from all over the world, it is not the titular cathedral of the city, a title belonging to the...

 in Padua
Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

, the Pontifical Basilica of the Holy House at Loreto
Loreto (AN)
Loreto is a hilltown and comune of the Italian province of Ancona, in the Marche. It is mostly famous as the seat of the Basilica della Santa Casa, a popular Catholic pilgrimage site.-Location:...

, the Pontifical Basilica of St. Michael in Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

.

Until Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

, the title "patriarchal" (now "papal") was officially given to two minor basilicas associated with Saint Francis of Assisi
Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men's Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the lay Third Order of Saint Francis. St...

 situated in or near his home town:
  • Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
    Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi
    The Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor—commonly known as the Franciscan Order—in Assisi, Italy, the city where St. Francis was born and died. The basilica is one of the most important places of Christian pilgrimage in Italy...

  • Papal Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels
    Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli
    The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli is a church situated in the plain at the foot of the hill of Assisi, Italy, in the frazione of Santa Maria degli Angeli....

     in Portiuncola.


The description "patriarchal" still applies to two minor basilicas associated with archbishops who have the title of patriarch: the Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of St Mark
St Mark's Basilica
The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture...

 in Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 and the Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia.

Not all Patriarchal cathedrals are minor basilicas, notably: the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Mary Major
Lisbon Cathedral
The Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Mary Major is a Roman Catholic parish church located in Lisbon, Portugal. The oldest church in the city is the see of the Archdiocese of Lisbon. Since the beginning of the construction of the cathedral, in the year 1147, the building has been modified several...

 in Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, the Patriarchal Cathedral of Santa Catarina, Old Goa
Old Goa
Old Goa or Velha Goa is a historical city in North Goa district in the Indian state of Goa. The city was constructed by the Bijapur Sultanate in the 15th century, and served as capital of Portuguese India from the 16th century until its abandonment in the 18th century due to plague...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

Basilicas and pilgrimages



In recent times, the title of minor basilicas have been traditionally attributed to important pilgrimage Roman Catholic churches. In 1999 Bishop Francesco Giogia stated that the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Roman Catholic church, minor basilica and National Shrine of Mexico in the north of Mexico City. The shrine was built nearby the place where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin...

 in Mexico City (constructed in the 20th century) was the most visited Catholic shrine in the world, followed by San Giovanni Rotondo
San Giovanni Rotondo
San Giovanni Rotondo is the name of a city and comune in the province of Foggia, Puglia region, southern Italy. As of 2006 it had a population of 26,442....

 and Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
The town of Aparecida, in the SE region of the State of São Paulo, Brazil, houses two basilicas dedicated to Brazil's Patroness Saint, Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida, or "Our Lady of the Conception who Appeared," a reference to the appearance of the head, then the body of a statue of Mary in...

 in Brazil. Millions of pilgrims visit the shrines of Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady of Lourdes is the name used to refer to the Marian apparition said to have appeared before various individuals on separate occasions around Lourdes, France...

 and Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fátima is a famous title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary as she appeared in apparitions reported by three shepherd children at Fátima in Portugal. These occurred on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on May 13...

. Pilgrimage basilicas continue to attract well over 30 million pilgrims per year.

Every year, on May 13 and October 13, the significant dates of the Fatima apparitions
Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fátima is a famous title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary as she appeared in apparitions reported by three shepherd children at Fátima in Portugal. These occurred on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on May 13...

, pilgrims fill the country road that leads to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima is a Roman Catholic Marian basilica in Fátima, Portugal...

 with crowds that approach one million on each day. In December 2009 the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe set a new record with 6.1 million pilgrims during Friday and Saturday for the anniversary of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

See also


  • Cathedral
    Cathedral
    A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

  • Duomo
    Duomo
    Duomo is a term for a cathedral church. The formal word for a church that is presently a cathedral is cattedrale; a Duomo may be either a present or a former cathedral . Some, like the Duomo of Monza, have never been cathedrals, although old and important...

  • List of basilicas
  • Architecture of cathedrals and great churches
  • Roman architecture
    Roman architecture
    Ancient Roman architecture adopted certain aspects of Ancient Greek architecture, creating a new architectural style. The Romans were indebted to their Etruscan neighbors and forefathers who supplied them with a wealth of knowledge essential for future architectural solutions, such as hydraulics...

  • Roman Catholic Marian churches
    Roman Catholic Marian churches
    Throughout history, Roman Catholics have built churches to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today, a large number of Roman Catholic churches dedicated to the Blessed Virgin exist on all continents...


Sources and references


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External links