Architecture

Pope Francis designates Ste. Anne Church in Southwest Detroit a minor basilica

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The second oldest continuously operating Catholic community in the United States has just received an extraordinary honor.

Pope Francis has Ste. Anne Church in southwest Detroit is a small basilica. The Detroit Catholic reports that Monsignor Charles Kosanke’s message was delivered to the Roman Catholic Ward during Mass on March 1st.

Ste. Anne is now one of only 86 churches in the United States and three in Michigan to receive the award. (The title of the “great basilica” is reserved for the churches in Rome.)

The honor recognizes that a place of worship has significant historical, architectural, or spiritual significance. It also means that the Church has a “closer relationship with the Pope” and has the right to display the papal symbol of the crossed keys on its banners, furniture and seals.

The Archbishop of Detroit, Allen H. Vigneron, filed a nomination request in Rome in July 2018.

“As our founding church, Ste. Anne was one of the first fruits of a new mission diocese, ”Vigneron said in a statement. “In the designation of the church as a basilica, this will be a profound reminder to all who attend our continued mission to unleash the gospel in our communities.”

A special mass will be held on this occasion on Sunday, April 26th, at 12 noon, at which Vigneron will read the Pope’s decree.

Originally Ste. Anne de Détroit, the church was founded in 1701, in the same year Antoine de la Mothe founded Cadillac Fort Pontchartrain on land that would later become Detroit. A major figure in Detroit and Michigan history, Father Gabriel Richard pastored the Church from 1798–1832.

In 1887, it moved to today’s brick-and-stone Gothic revival near Ambassador Bridge. The architect Albert E. French designed the church in the classic style with large towers, arched and rose windows with stained glass and flying buttresses. There is also a large, brick-paved plaza and four gargoyles on the north facade.

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Dusty Kennedy