I think one of the most important things that should be in this history is how The Basilica has grown, and the direction that it’s grown. Its grown from a parish that served only the people who came here for Mass and the Sacraments, and it’s grown the reach out to the whole community, the community at large, and involved itself in the good of the community by going out and bringing people in.
— Clarence, Legacy Society member
The Basilica has been a foundation of our community for more than a century. It is one of the most recognizable and defining landmarks on the Minneapolis skyline, but The Basilica is more than just a structure.
Whether guiding nearly 12,000 parishioners through their faith journey, amazing visitors with its grandeur, or providing for those who are less fortunate, The Basilica has touched countless lives within and far beyond its four walls.
Perhaps you already know that The Basilica was built under the leadership and vision of Archbishop John Ireland beginning in 1907, and that French architect Emanuel Masqueray was handpicked to build what would become one of the area’s finest examples of Beaux Arts architecture.
Maybe you also know that The Basilica of Saint Mary is the very first Basilica in the United States and that it took 20 years to complete what would ultimately become the centerpiece of the community.
What you may not know is what it takes to restore, preserve or even just maintain The Basilica. Likely neither did Masqueray, who did not foresee the effects of harsh Minnesota winters on this incredible structure. Ice damage took a terrible toll, inside and out, and years of deferred maintenance led to a desperate situation in the early 1990s, when The Basilica’s condition nearly caused it to be closed.
Fortunately, a committed group of dedicated volunteers and staff came together to found The Basilica Landmark (formerly Friends of The Basilica of Saint Mary Foundation). Thanks to their tireless efforts and the financial support of generous donors, much-needed capital improvements and preventative maintenance are now possible.
The restoration work is ongoing, and that’s why The Basilica Landmark exists—to preserve the physical structure so that it remains a part of our community for generations to come.
We invite you to learn more about The Basilica’s history and consider making a gift today.