RICHMOND, Va. – Bishop Barry C. Knestout announces Saint Andrew Catholic Church in Roanoke has been granted the title of minor basilica by the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments in a letter dated Sept. 6, 2023. The special designation by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, makes St. Andrew the only named minor basilica in the western part of Virginia and the second in our diocese to be raised to this status by the Roman Catholic Church. The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Norfolk received the title on Dec. 8, 1991.
Bishop Knestout will be the main celebrant during a Mass Dec. 3, 2023, at the Basilica of Saint Andrew, where he will read the official Vatican decree and bless the physical symbols signifying the church’s elevation to this status.
“The history and architectural beauty of Saint Andrew’s make it a beacon of faith to all in the Western Vicariate of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, but, especially to the faithful of the Roanoke Valley and the surrounding region,” said Bishop Knestout. “With this decree, I hope more individuals will be drawn to visit this special treasure, and in doing so, will draw more to inquire about our faith. It’s not every day a recognition of this extent occurs. I am grateful for the hard work of so many to bring this to fruition, as we continue in a multiyear effort to bring attention to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. May this basilica continue to be a place of personal encounter with Christ, a place of robust faith formation and through its beauty externally and in the liturgy – elevate the hearts and minds of all who attend Mass here.”
The Rector of the Basilica of Saint Andrew, Father Kevin Segerblom, announced the designation to parishioners during Masses on the weekend of Oct. 7 and 8. He is available to speak to the media regarding the historic and significant elevation of the church in the Diocese of Richmond.
Symbols of a basilica
The symbols include: the ombrellino (umbrella); the tintinnabulum (bell); and papal cross keys. The ombrellino is a distinctive symbol used in basilicas throughout the world and is designed with stripes of yellow and red – traditional papal colors. The silk canopy is a symbol of a basilica’s special connection with the Holy Father, while the crossed keys are the sign of papal authority.
History of the Basilica of Saint Andrew
Saint Andrew Catholic parish was established in Roanoke in 1882. In 1902, the current twin-steepled, high Victorian Gothic church was dedicated. It sits on one of the highest hills within Roanoke overlooking the city.
The Basilica of Saint Andrew currently has 1,502 registered families and has in recent years undergone a complete restoration of its interior and exterior. More information about the basilica and this special designation will be shared online in the weeks to come.