By Francesca Norsen Tate
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, leader of Brooklyn’s Roman Catholics, presided at a Solemn Mass last Saturday at which Regina Pacis Church became a Minor Basilica. During the Eucharist, the proclamation of the Decree granting the title of “Minor Basilica” to Regina Pacis was read and the blessing of the Tintinnabulum and Papal Ombrellino was pronounced. Last month, Pope Benedict XVI announced the decision to designate Regina Pacis Church, 1230 65th Street, Brooklyn, a minor basilica. Of the approximately 19,000 Catholic Churches in the United States, now only 75 have been chosen as basilicas.
“The designation of Minor Basilica is a huge honor bestowed upon our Church building because of its beauty, historic and cultural importance, and its continued ability to attract people to Christ through their prayer and admiration,” said Msgr. Ronald Marino, pastor of St. Rosalia-Regina Pacis parish. “It is obviously a tribute to the many Italian immigrants and their families who generously helped to build it in 1949 to 1951.”
“This magnificent house of God is a precious heritage handed down to our current and future generation of parishioners by the founding community, who had the faith, foresight and dedication to fulfill a worthy promise made,” said Msgr. Marino. “Thanks to our predecessors’ great example and inspiration, our present parish family continues the tradition with their own
resolve, prayers, commitment and support, in maintaining this shrine dedicated to Mary our Mother.”
Last year, Bishop DiMarzio submitted a petition to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments of the Vatican, requesting the honor of minor basilica for Regina Pacis. The request also required approval of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Minor Basilica” is a title of honor conferred by the Holy Father on a church of great architectural, historic and spiritual importance. It may be a cathedral, a parish church or a shrine. These exceptional churches serve as an important center for the entire community of faith in demonstrating and living out the rich values of the Gospel. This honor signifies Regina Pacis’ particular link with the Roman Church and the Supreme Pontiff and will be demonstrated by the celebration of specific feasts in a special way that are linked to the papal office, including the Feast of the Chair of Peter (February 22nd), the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29th) and the anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI.
The papal symbol will be exhibited on banners and furnishings and on the seal of the new basilica’s coat of arms. It is already visible on the basilica’s website. Moreover, the faithful who devoutly visit the basilica and participate in any sacred rite or at least recite the Lord’s Prayer and the profession of faith may obtain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Supreme Pontiff), according to the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church.
Considered the “Mother Church of Italian Immigrants,” Regina Pacis was built through the sacrifice and generosity of an earlier generation as a testament of their devotion to Mary, Queen of Peace, and their faith in the Lord. It was erected as a result of a solemn vow for “Peace in the World” at a time when the world had been ravaged by two World Wars.
According to a history page on Regina Pacis’ website: “The vow to build a Votive Shrine to Our Lady Queen of Peace was impressively made by the entire congregation of St. Rosalia’s Parish attending the various Masses on the Second Sunday In May 1942. The object of the Vow was: Safe return of our Soldiers from the battlefields and a just peace.”
Ground was broken for the building on October 3, 1948. The church was dedicated and first opened on August 15, 1951. A Coronation Liturgy for Our Lady took place on May 24, 1952, 60 years ago, and 10 years after the vow was made. Regina Pacis maintains great relevance for the large Italian community in New York City. Presently, it is also home to growing Chinese and Hispanic populations.