Basilica of Saint Mary
1600 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, 55403
The Basilica of Saint Mary is a Roman Catholic minor basilica located between 16th & 17th Streets in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was the first basilica established in the United States.
The Basilica of Saint Mary is the co-cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
In 1905, Lawrence S. Donaldson donated a one-block parcel on Hennepin Avenue near Loring Park for the new church buildings. The groundbreaking was held on August 7, 1907, with foundation construction continuing through May 1908. The cornerstone was laid on May 31, 1908, with a ceremony involving 30,000 Catholics, twenty bishops, 300 priests and seminarians from the Saint Paul Seminary, and 500 cadets from the College of Saint Thomas.
The foundation of the church is of Rockville granite. The walls are built of white Vermont granite, with a height of 70 feet (21 m) from the floor to the eave-line. The main entrance is a colonnaded portico with two 116-foot (35 m) spires on each side. The nave is lighted by five large arched stained glass windows. The nave has a barrel vault of 82 feet (25 m), exceeding that of the St. Peter's Basilica by two feet. The sanctuary, at the north end of the nave, is topped with a grand dome measuring 40 square feet (3.7 m2) at the base and rising 138 feet (42 m) above the floor. Above the dome is a flesche or lantern topped with a bronze cross, measuring another 62 feet (19 m), making the total height 200 feet (61 m) above floor level. The marble altar is located underneath a 50-foot-high (15 m) marble-columned baldacchino.
The present Basilica organ was installed in 1949 as Wicks Opus No. 3047. The instrument includes several stops that were scaled and designed by Henry Vincent Willis IV of England as one of a few larger Wicks instruments installed throughout the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. After undergoing a complete renovation in Winter, 2008, including an entirely new relay and console, the organ now consists of 82 ranks on 4 manuals and pedal. The en-chamade Herald Trumpet is actually tuba-scale and modeled after the English town hall Willis tubas. Voiced on 25" wind, it is the most commanding such stop in the Upper Midwest.
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