St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral To Become Basilica

Famed Church Gets Incredible Honor From Pope Benedict XVI

NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880) — This Sunday a local parish church will officially be elevated as the New York Archdiocese’s first basilica. The Catholic Church will honor St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in a special ceremony.

Its new status also designates the historic church as the pope’s home parish in the archdiocese.

The plain exterior of the historic cathedral on Mulberry Street belies its ornate interior and rich past.

“The elevation of a church to the status of basilica is an expression of its history, its role in the community,” Monsignor Donald Sakano told CBS 2’s Don Dahler.

On Sunday, Archbishop Timothy Dolan will inaugurate Old St. Patrick’s in Little Italy as the archdiocese’s first basilica. The honor comes directly from Pope Benedict XVI, who selected the church for elevation back in March.

“It is the pope’s church outside of Rome. When he comes to New York this is a church that he’d think of coming to to pray,” Monsignor Sakano said.

Since 1809 Old St. Patrick’s has been a spiritual center for New York Catholics, reports WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb. The church’s gothic arches soar. Monsignor Sakano said their heights and the church’s stained glass windows create a prayerful atmosphere.

“Because the lines are vertical … so a gothic church almost has a finger pointing up to heaven,” Sakano told Lamb.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports on the history of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral

“The first American cardinal received his red hat in this building,” Sakano said.

Parishioners attending Friday’s noon mass were thrilled their parish will be recognized.

“I’m honored that the church is becoming a basilica,” Susan Martini said.

“I love to come here and feel in the presence of God. I just love it here,” Gussie DeFranco said.

From the ancient burial crypt below to the brick wall that surrounds it the church is filled with reminders of the past.

“There were attempts to burn the church actually, and so a wall was built around the perimeter of our church which stands today,” Monsignor Sakano said.

Director Martin Scorsese was a parishioner and once served as an altar boy at the church. Several Hollywood films, including “Gangs of New York” and “The Godfather” featured the church wall and interior of the church.

Now, basilica status will be the foundation of the parish’s future.

“It’s not just being a museum of the past but being a place where people can encounter the holy and integrate that within their own lives,” Monsignor Sakano said.

“It means so much to us as Catholic community. I don’t think we could be any more grateful. It’s just a beautiful blessing,” parishioner Patricia Cusumano said.

  • Frank

    Let’s not forget the late bishop John Dubois buried there that the Irish treated terrible due to him not being Irish. Talk about catholic charity and love..I have written Dolan about sainthood possibilities for Dubois and also the written the current pastor in this regard as well

    Blog site:

    Albany new york

  • Walter Greenspan

    The Archdiocese of New York currently includes 10 counties: New York County, Richmond County, Bronx County, as well as Dutchess County, Orange County, Putnam County, Rockland County, Sullivan County, Ulster County and Westchester County. The first three counties are coterminous with the New York City Boroughs of Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx, respectively.

  • Elizabeth Michael

    If you go to the archdiocese of New York web site, you will see which diocese are part of the New York archdiocese. It doesn’t mean the State of New York

  • Anne

    The article says it is going to the only one in New York Diocese. There are several diocese in the archdiocese of New York. There are several archdiocese in the State of New York. The Diocese of Brooklyn is not part of the archdiocese of New York. There are several Basilicas in the State of New York. So, first read the article then know what you are talking about. As a New York Irish Catholic, I know what I am talking about.

    • Jake

      They corrected the article. The original article stated in New York State

  • Rose

    Will you all pulease get a life!!!!!!Preferably one filled with the Holy Spirit!!!

  • jcap17

    The story on the site has been fixed to reflect the fact that Old St. Pat’s will become the first basilica in the NY Archdiocese.

  • Brendan

    The newscaster stated on the 6 pm news that the other only basillica in the Tri-State is in Newark. Incorrect! As the person above said, OLPH in Brooklyn has been one for years. Please spend a little more time in thoroughly researching your stories CBS before blatantly broadcasting such factually incorrect statements.

  • Think thats correct now.

    Looks like they changed the story to read properly. Old St. Patricks Cathedral will be the only Basilica in the Arch-Diocese of New York. Now lets see if they get it right on air.

  • Nice Research

    The article says it will be the only basilica in New York State.

    Our lady of Victory in Buffalo, NY has been a basilicva since 1926. Please try to make just a little effort to research.

    • Elizabeth Michael

      It says the first one in the New York archdiocese. Doers anyone know the area involved in the archdiocese?

  • Frank

    Who cares about this story? All religions are a joke.

    • Maria Hartmann

      My grandparents were married in their neighborhood church, Old St. Patrick’s, and each time I walk by or walk in I think about that LIttle Italy of a hundred years ago.
      It is a huge meaningful part of my heritage and a wonderful NYC landmark.
      Obviously you are not a native New Yorker.

  • Albert Forman

    No, the Baristas are trained to answer incompetent questions from atheists such as yourself who ponder the meanings of their own lives.

  • Monica

    It may be Manhattan’s only Basilica but it is not New York City’s only Basilica. Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn has been a Basilica for many years.

  • Star Buck

    Is a Basilica a place where Baristas learn how to make coffee?

    • Padre Guido S.

      Blasphemy. Blasphemy I tell you!

    • Bring your Shinebox

      Har, Har…now finish shining my shoes!

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