Pope Francis grants Ste. Anne Church in Detroit honorary title of ‘Minor Basilica’

Ste. Anne now one of 86 churches in US and only third in Michigan to hold title of Minor Basilica

(Photo courtesy of Ste. Anne Parish in Detroit)

DETROIT – Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron announced Sunday that Pope Francis has granted the title of Minor Basilica to Ste. Anne Church at 1000 St. Anne Street in Detroit.

The title is given to churches around the world to denote a particular importance in liturgical and pastoral life and a closer relationship with the pope.

The title of Major Basilica is reserved to churches in Rome.

“As our founding parish, Ste. Anne was among the first fruits of a new missionary diocese. In the church’s designation as a basilica, it will stand as a profound reminder to all who visit of our continuing mission to unleash the Gospel in our communities,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “We in the Archdiocese of Detroit are truly blessed by the Holy Father’s recognition of its historic significance to the City of Detroit and its importance to the liturgical life of the entire Archdiocese.”

Archbishop Vigneron in July of 2018 requested that the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments grant the title to the parish church, which was consecrated on October 30, 1887.

It is the eighth church constructed for the use of the parish community, which dates back to Ste. Anne’s feast day, July 26 in 1701 – just two days after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and his companions, including two Catholic priests, established the settlement of Fort Ponchartrain du Détroit.

Ste. Anne Parish remains the second-oldest continuously operating Catholic parish in the United States.

The parish’s most well-known pastor, Fr. Gabriel Richard, authored the motto for Detroit, “Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus,” (“We hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes,”) after the Great Fire of 1805. Fr. Richard’s final resting place is at Ste. Anne.

“We are most grateful to Pope Francis for the designation and to Archbishop Vigneron for championing this effort,” said Monsignor Charles Kosanke, pastor of Ste. Anne Parish. “In celebrating this honor, we embrace our added responsibility as a basilica to increase our efforts to serve as a welcoming place of prayer and spiritual renewal for all who visit. We pray especially for the intercession of Ste. Anne, patroness of Detroit and our parish, that she may become a special source of wisdom and inspiration for the faithful of the Archdiocese and beyond.”

Ste. Anne is now one of 86 churches in the United States — and only the third church in Michigan — to hold the title of Minor Basilica.

The Archdiocese of Detroit’s National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak was named a Minor Basilica in 2015 and the Basilica of St. Adalbert in Grand Rapids received the title in 1980.

To mark Ste. Anne’s designation as a Minor Basilica, Archbishop Vigneron will preside at a solemn celebration of Mass with a reading of the decree at 12 p.m. Sunday, April 26.

The church’s title also will change to that of a basilica, to reflect its new designation. Due to its closer connection to the pope, Ste. Anne will see enhancements to its already-active liturgical life throughout the year.

Though the schedule of services week-to-week will not change, Ste. Anne will observe various feast days associated with St. Peter and the papacy. To demonstrate it met criteria for becoming a Minor Basilica, Ste. Anne extensively documented its heightened liturgical activity and its architectural stature.

The current church structure was built in 1886 to serve as the parish’s eighth worship space, but it contains many artifacts from the so-called “Stone Church,” the church building that preceded the present structure.

Among the items removed to the current building are the 1818 cornerstone, the altar in the chapel, the communion rail, the Beaubien Bell, and the statue of Ste. Anne and Mary.

In addition, some windows removed from the earlier church and reinstalled at Ste. Anne hold the oldest stained glass found in Detroit.

Ste. Anne Parish has a membership of 575 families and offers three regular Masses each weekend, including one in Spanish. During the week, daily Masses are offered both in English and Spanish.

The Archdiocese of Detroit has 1.1 million Catholics in 217 parishes across Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, St. Clair and Lapeer counties.