Immaculate Conception designated Minor Basilica
Pope Francis has designated Downtown’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church a Minor Basilica, a status that indicates the church is “the center of active and pastoral liturgy with a vibrant Catholic community and have unique, historical, artistic or religious importance,” according to a news release. The church, a historical landmark at 121 E. Duval St., becomes the 77th minor basilica in the U.S., the second in the Diocese of St. Augustine and the sixth in Florida. It was looted and then burned by Union soldiers in 1863, rebuilt in 1873 and then destroyed by the Great Fire of 1901 before again being rebuilt. A basilica is a church granted special status by the Vatican, with most falling under the minor basilica category. The diocese will commemorate the designation at celebration of Mass at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 9.