With white limestone columns and a soaring single spire, St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in Downtown was once the tallest building in Cincinnati. It no longer holds that title, nor is it a just a cathedral.
During Saturday morning mass, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr announced the church is being elevated to a basilica. It becomes just the 89th basilica in the United States.
"For all of us who live and worship in our archdiocese, this is a great blessing and honor that has been bestowed on our cathedral church," Schnurr said.
According to the Cincinnati Archdiocese, "The title is given to churches around the world in recognition of their historical or cultural importance, artistic beauty and significance in the life of the church."
The church will be known as the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains. The decree was signed at the Vatican on June 29, 2020, and was received by the archdiocese last week. A special Mass of Thanksgiving will be held Nov. 7, 2020 to recognize the church's 175th anniversary and "the symbols granted in virtue of the church’s designation as a minor basilica will debut for the first time and be enshrined," according to a statement.
Father Jan Kevin Schmidt, rector of the cathedral, requested the designation with the permission of the archbishop. The archdiocese reports the cathedral is the oldest cathedral built as such still in use in the USA.
"It's the quality of the cathedral's structure, the absolute beauty of its architecture, the biblical symbolism throughout, the quality and prayerfulness of its liturgy and ecclesiastical significance as a cathedral that make it very important and very special for the archdiocese and in the American Catholic scene," Schmidt said.
In the Catholic faith, a basilica - derived from the Greek term meaning "royal house" - is a church building that's been awarded special privileges by the pope. Most basilicas are considered minor basilicas. There are only four major basilicas and they're all in Rome.
Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington was elevated by Pope Pius XII on Dec. 8, 1953.