After we left the Field of Dreams on Sunday, we visited the St. Francis Xavier Basilica. It is one of only 53 Basilicas in the United States.
The height of each spire is 212 feet.
The term Basilica is a Greek derivation from “Basileus” meaning a royal or kingly building. In the day of the pagan Roman Empire, most cities had a large building of special architectural design to accommodate large audiences for orators of the day. They were called basilicas. In her earlier centuries, the Catholic church conferred this title on churches of unusual architectural and spiritual significance. Their number is small. Some hold the title by a special Papal edict as is the case of the Dyersville Basilica.
The Basilica is often referred to as the Pope’s church for his use in the event he should ever visit the area. There are Major and Minor Basilicas. The Major Basilicas of which there exist only five, are all in Rome, the best known being St. Peter’s. The Basilica of St. Mary’s in Minneapolis was the first church in the United States to be raised to the rank of a Minor Basilica in 1926.
St. Francis Xavier was the twelfth church in the country so honored. It is unique in that it is one of three in a rural area; all the others are in metropolitan areas.
There are now 53 basilicas in the United States. St. Francis Xavier Basilica is one of the finest examples of the true medieval Gothic architecture. Its graceful and pleasing lines are reminiscent of some of the outstanding Gothic cathedrals in Europe.