Saturday, October 31, 2015

Basilica of St. Mary - Minneapolis

The Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, Minnesota was the first of a current 83 minor basilicas established in the U.S. (in 1926) and it is the co-cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis along with the Cathedral of St. Paul.
Basilica of St. Mary as viewed from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
The front
The side

It was designed in the Beaux-Arts architecture style, a neoclassical style taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. 
One of the bells.
St. Mary's at night as we drove by (out of the front window of the car).
A minor basilica has (or had until 1989) the right of conopaeum (resembling an umbrella of yellow and red silk) and the tintinnabulum (bell). It may also use the papal symbol of crossed keys on banners and furnishings. I previously posted on another minor basilica in Mobile, Alabama where further explanation was given on minor basilicas.   
A representation of the conopaeum on the front door. 
St. Mary's was dedicated in 1913 and completed in 1925. It was designed by Emmanuel Louis Masqueray who also designed the Cathedral of St. Paul which was being built at the same time. American Architect magazine at the time noted, "The two Catholic Cathedrals will be -- when completed, noteworthy achievements in church building for any period; in extent and splendor they promise to surpass anything yet attempted in ecclesiastical work in the United States." Both St. Mary's and St. Paul's are world-class cathedrals and two of the nicest, if not the nicest, we've visited in the U.S.
From near the front, looking toward the altar.
From near the altar, looking toward the front. 
The rose window in the front facade.
St. Mary in the center of the rose window, holding the Christ-child.
The baptismal font.
The foundation is made of Rockville granite and the walls of white Vermont granite. The marble altar has a 50 foot high marble-columned canopy called a baldachinno or baldachin.
Part of the canopy above the altar, viewed from the side.
Mary at the top of the canopy and a view into the dome.
Closer view of Mary at the top of the canopy.
There is some beautiful statutory, much of it dedicated to St. Mary.
I believe this is Anna, Mary's mother, and Mary as a youth.
Mary and her Son.
In the cupola over the statue of Mary and Jesus above is this mosaic of a mother pelican and three of her babies. The radiating rays are reminiscent of rays from the sun. When I originally did this post, I indicated that aside from the theme of motherhood, I would love to know the intended symbolism as I really loved this unusual representation.  
I learned the answer to the question above at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. There they have this bronze crucifix by John Singer Sargent that has a pelican at the base of the cross. The caption describing the crucifix says that the pelican piercing its breast to feed its children its blood is a symbol of Christ's Passion from the Middle Ages. In the Greek Physiologos, an allegorical zoological manual from the second century CE, the newborn pelican chicks rebel against their mother, who then kills them with her beak. After mourning them for three days, the mother pelican opens her own chest to revive her offspring with her own blood. 
I'm not sure who these images represent. I'm guessing the little one is the Christ-child, but the adult is likely not Joseph as he is represented in monastic garb.
The cupola over the statue above. 
St. Mary
A statue identified as "Christ Rising."
There were wonderful representations of the Stations of the Cross and some stained glass windows that reflected the stations as well:
The 5th Station of the Cross
A companion stained glass window.

12th Station of the Cross
Companion stained glass window
13th Station of the Cross
Companion stained glass window.
14th Station of the Cross
Companion stained glass window.
There were also stained glass windows representing Old Testament characters that I really enjoyed:



  1. The stained glass is world-class. I remember hearing in Europe that the stork is renowned for its care-taking of its young, and associated with kindness and parental love.

    1. I found the answer in the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The pelican is a symbol of the Passion as it kills its own babies, then revives them with her own blood three days later.

    2. Oh my! That's really interesting.

  2. I love the matching stained glass and traditional stations of the cross. Beautiful.

  3. The picture titled "Mary and Her Son" is Our Lady of LaVang and they got this statue from Vietnam.

    An explanation for the Pelican is here:

    For the picture captioned: "I'm not sure who these images represent. I'm guessing the little one is the Christ-child, but the adult is likely not Joseph as he is represented in monastic garb." This is Saint Anthony of Padua or simply, St. Anthony.

    For your picture titled "St. Mary" with the crown of roses, this did not happen when I went to the Basilica like 10 years ago but now, someone, likely a woman wearing lipstick, seems to be kissing the robe and such prints are left on the statue, I'm not so sure of what they should do about this. It is obviously, an antique.

    Your stainglass pictures are stupendous. The whole place is rather fantastic. I have not seen some of the great Cathedrals out there but, this place is enchanting for me.

    Side note, the oldest continuously operating church in the Twin Cities is about 3 miles West and across the Mississippi river. It is called "Our Lady of Lourdes". Small but rather remarkable, built in 1845 or whatever year. If one ever goes to Minneapolis, perhaps, another place to seek out.