Minneapolis is home to first American Basilica

Minneapolis basilica
Basilica of St. Mary

Minneapolis is home to the first American basilica. The church was built in the early 1900s.

It was built in the beaux-arts style between 1907 and 1914. It was intended to replace the Church of Immaculate Conception, which had been squeezed out by the growing warehouse district.

The church was named a basilica in 1926 by Pope Pius XI. That made the building the first basilica in the United States. A basilica is named as such based on the building’s importance to the Church.

The basilica is open for public viewing. The staff also offers guided tours.

The first thing we noticed was that the interior of the basilica has a conservative appearance. The St. Louis basilica, in comparison, had a lot of gold and color in its arches and mosaics. The Minneapolis basilica has a basic appearance.

Minneapolis basilica
Arches inside the Basilica of St. Mary

The marble altar is attractive. It shines brightly under the natural light coming in from under the dome.

Minneapolis basilica

The dome adds to the beauty of the altar, with the immaculate trim and the blue paint.

Minneapolis basilica
The altar beneath the dome

The basilica is quite large. It appears to be able to sit several hundred people during masses.

Minneapolis basilica
Checking out the basilica from the back of the pews

The pew area is accented with sculptures featuring key church leaders for the Archdiocese. The Most Rev. Austin Dowling served as the second Archbishop of the diocese. He followed Archbishop John Ireland in 1911, and served until he died in 1930.

Minneapolis basilica
An early archbishop

The Most. Rev. Joseph Cretin served as the first bishop for St. Paul 1850-57.

Minneapolis basilica
St. Paul’s first bishop

The stained glass windows provide the Catholic narrative. The first set of windows are completed in 1924, including the dome. The rest of the stained glass windows were completed in 1926.

Minneapolis basilica
Beautiful stained glass

A statue of Rev. Louis Hennepin stands outside the basilica. Hennepin was captured in 1680 by a Native American (Dakota) tribal party. He and a guide were traveling along the Illinois River to the Mississippi River. He was later allowed to leave the area.

Minneapolis basilica
Father Hennepin

Hennepin is credited with identifying two major waterfalls of the time – Niagara Falls and St. Anthony’s Falls (birthplace of Minneapolis).

For more information on the Basilica of Saint Mary, please visit www.mary.org.