Becoming a Basilica

In the modern world, basilicas are widely recognized as churches or shrines of elevated importance, although their distinguishing characteristics and complex role within the Roman Catholic tradition may be less familiar to us.


Basilicas assume heightened obligations and possess exceptional privileges within the Catholic Church, while embodying distinctive characteristics as conduits for vibrant adoration of the Lord, celebration of the sacraments, and devotion to the Blessed Mother and the saints.


These special houses of worship have held this esteemed position since the early fourth century when Emperor Constantine I gifted the former Lateran Palace to Pope Sylvester I, who made it his residence. The Pope converted its great hall — which previously had been known as a “basilica” in a secular sense — and consecrated it as the Cathedral of Rome, seat of the Supreme Pontiff, which it has remained for most of the last 1,700 years. Today, it is known as the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior at the Lateran (familiarly the Lateran Basilica), one of just four major basilicas in the world.


On November 9, 1989, the Holy See’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued Domus Ecclesiae, a document that provides the Church with definitive guidance on the requirements, privileges, and responsibilities of basilicas. Fundamentally, the text states: A basilica must possess “particular importance for liturgical and pastoral life” such that it is “honored by the Supreme Pontiff with the title of Minor Basilica, thereby signifying [its] particular link with the Roman Church and the Supreme Pontiff.”


Archbishop Nelson Perez joins Fr. Stephen Grozio, CM, provincial of the Vincentians of the Eastern Province, with (l-r) Fr. Joseph A. Skelly’s Great-great niece, her mother Mary Ann Tragesser (Fr. Skelly’s great niece) and Mary Ann’s cousin Maureen.  Archbishop Nelson Perez joins Fr. Stephen Grozio, CM, provincial of the Vincentians of the Eastern Province, with (l-r) Fr. Joseph A. Skelly’s Great-great niece, her mother Mary Ann Tragesser (Fr. Skelly’s great niece) and Mary Ann’s cousin Maureen. 

In December 2022, Pope Francis decreed that The Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal would be so honored. It is just the second Minor Basilica in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the 92nd in the United States.

As such, it also holds international status within the Church, among approximately 1,800 Minor Basilicas worldwide. At first glance, The Basilica Shrine appears much the same as it has since the Vincentians opened its doors to the public for the first time in 1927. With its rectangular nave; recessed apse; ornate columns and arches; Romanesque façade; and towering spire, its crowning distinction lies atop the carillon dome, where the gilded statue of Our Blessed Mother overlooks the city, her arms extended for all who beseech her graces.


But upon closer inspection, visitors will notice new identifying features. The Basilica Shrine has vibrant worship life, pastoral associations, and charitable work, along with its standing as a historical landmark, a house of significant sacred art, and a destination for pilgrims from around the world.


As a Minor Basilica, The Basilica Shrine has the privilege of displaying the Vatican City’s coat of arms on its façade and the crossed keys of Saint Peter on all its furnishings and liturgical appointments. It also displays a canopy of yellow and red silk known as an ombrellino, along with a bell mounted on a pole known as a tintinnabulum. Together, these features signify a basilica’s direct link with the pope. 

Basilica Ombrellino

These visual cues are a constant reminder of the fundamental role of a basilica, as stated in Domus Ecclesiae, “as a center of active and pastoral liturgy, especially through celebrations of the Most Holy Eucharist, of penance, and of the other sacraments. These celebrations set an example for others on account of their preparation and realization according to liturgical norms and with the active participation of

Archbishop Nelson Perez congratulates CAMM CEO Mary Jo Timlin-Hoag after the Mass of Thanksgiving for The Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

the people of God.” The Basilica Shrine satisfies these norms through its vibrant worship life, pastoral associations, and charitable work, along with its standing as a historical landmark, a house of significant sacred art, and a destination for pilgrims from around the world.


The Basilica Shrine’s new designation brings elevated responsibilities. As a clear demonstration of its special bond of communion with the Roman cathedra, in accordance with Domus Ecclesiae, The Basilica Shrine will celebrate “with particular care” the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle (February 22); the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles (June 29); the anniversary of the sitting pope’s election into the supreme ministry (for Pope Francis, March 13); and the anniversary of the sitting pope’s inauguration as the new pontiff (for Pope Francis, March 19).


Additionally, a minor basilica continues to promote the instruction of the faithful in the liturgy through groups, courses, and conferences; ensure that the celebrations of the liturgical year are prepared and carried out with great care, especially the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter; and promote the singing of the various parts of Holy Mass, so that the celebration “takes a more noble form when it is carried out in song.”


As a concession of its new designation, The Basilica Shrine holds the privilege of plenary indulgence in that those faithful (who devoutly visit on certain days and participate in a sacred rite) may — under specific conditions — obtain a plenary indulgence that removes all temporal punishment associated with one’s sins. As detailed in Domus Ecclesiae, individuals must make sacramental confession, receive Eucharistic Communion, and pray for the intention of the Supreme Pontiff on the designated day. A basilica may offer plenary indulgences on specific dates associated with the granting of its title and dedication; the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles; or annually on a day chosen that the local Ordinary or the faithful choose.

Graces Delivered — The power of Mary’s Miraculous Medal at work for Dr. Monica Montenero

Dr. Monica Montenero has always enjoyed singing and being a voice for Mary. She overcame dire circumstances and tragedy to continue to raise up her voice to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.


Healing the sick has always been a mission and a vocation for Dr. Monica Montenero.


Similarly, commitment to the Catholic faith has been a longstanding tradition in her family, so much so that she initially aspired to become a nun as she completed her secondary education in a religious boarding school.

Dr. Monica enthusiastically traces the genesis of her spiritual epiphany to a terrifying night in Rome in 2010. Although she was living in the United States at the time, she had traveled to her native city for work.


“I was sleeping in my mother’s home, and I always sleep with a window open,” she said. “And in the middle of the night somebody came and tried to kill me. I was the victim of this terrible crime. … I was physically attacked and full of blood.”


Dr. Monica suffered injuries throughout her body, including severe neck trauma, and completely lost her ability to speak. A series of surgeries and intense therapy helped her return to work eventually. But after two years, she chose to retire and move to Madrid to be near her newly married son, Raffaele, and his Spanish bride, Macarena.


It was there that she attended daily services at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish Church and where her devotion to Our Lady began to flourish.


Today, she dedicates herself to the spiritual healing of others through the Blessed Mother’s uplifting message to St. Catherine Labouré.


Tragedy struck again in 2018. While visiting a resort in the Italian Alps with her son and daughter-in-law to celebrate her 65th birthday, Dr. Monica was struck and severely injured by a wayward snowboarder. Months of recovery followed, during which a volunteer from her home parish brought a miniature Miraculous Medal Shrine to her bedside for continual prayer and devotion to Our Lady.


During this time Dr. Monica recalled she prayed. “‘I just want you to please help my son and daughter-in-law to have a baby,’ because they were having difficulty having a baby.” And not long after that, Macarena delivered a beautiful baby girl they named Costanza. Eventually, the young couple would have a son, Filippo.


Within a year, Dr. Monica had miraculously regained her ability to speak.


“I really love to sing when I’m in church, even though I don’t have a great voice,” she said. “Now it’s great because I can sing in church. Like St. Augustine said, ‘When you sing in church, you pray twice.’”


“It is really beautiful to be able to speak. It is really beautiful,” she said. “Now I want to use my voice as much as I can to just spread the word, to tell all the people that she is the person to dedicate your life to because She is listening to you, and She brings all your needs to God.

The easiest — and most effective — way to spread devotion and love of Our Blessed Mother.

As a member of our Rays of Hope monthly giving program, you will help us reach out to the hungry and heartbroken souls, who come to us for comfort, support, and solace. As a member, you will receive:

  • The treasury of Holy Masses and Prayers said for you throughout the year.
  • The Miraculous Medal Novena said for your intentions every Monday of the year.
  • A 25% discount on all purchases of religious items at the Shrine’s gift shop.
  • A free subscription to The Message, our Miraculous Medal Magazine.

Ready to start? Just check the box on the enclosed reply coupon, indicate the amount of your monthly gift, and mail it back to us in the postage-paid envelope provided.

International Vincentian Youth Meeting 2023

This year’s Vincentian Youth Meeting will be held July 29 through August 1 in Lisbon, Portugal, just a few days before the World Youth Day. This year’s theme is: “I am neither from here nor from there, but from wherever God wants me to be,” which St. Vincent de Paul said to the Daughters of Charity in 1634. The theme projects the following objectives: to allow an experience of the universality of the Church and the Vincentian charisma; and to awaken to the Vincentian missionary vocation and its sending and to make us aware of the actuality of today’s Vincentian charisma.

Join Our Rome Tour Planned for March 8-15, 2024

Hosted by the Niagara University Alumni Office and the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal, this is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore Rome, the “eternal city”, Florence, and the Tuscan countryside with exclusive access to ancient sites and gastronomical wonders.


• Roman City Tour to see the Bocca della Verita, the (in)famous stone cistern lid from the film Roman Holiday, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum

• Tour of the Galleria Borghese

• Exploring the unique Roman neighborhood Trastevere

• Travel to Castel Gandolfo, which is world-famous for the Papal Summer Residence and an opportunity to see the Palazzo Pontificio, the Apostolic Palace, the Pontifical Villas, the Giardino Barberini, and the San Tomoasso da Villanova church.

• Tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel

• Our Florence experience includes visits to the Duomo and it’s Baptistry, the Academia Museum — home to Michelangelo’s sculpture of David among other priceless works of art, and the Church of Santa Croce

• A day trip to a local vineyard and a visit to Assisi, a village with Catholic holy sites dedicated St. Francis, St. Clare, and the blessed Carlo Acutis.


Accommodations, guided tours, admissions to all activities and sites as noted in the daily itinerary, meals per the itinerary, all gratuities (except hotel cleaning staff) and transportation for scheduled events.

**Note: Airfare is not included. $5,250 per person based on double occupancy, $900 additional supplement for single room. Deposit of $500 due at reservation and balance due 90 days prior to departure.

For more details and to ask any questions about the trip, please contact Megan Brogan by email at or by phone (215) 848-1010.

Sistine Chapel

Beyond Sunday™ Backpack Blessing

Every third Thursday of the month, Beyond SundayTM team members from The Miraculous Medal Shrine are available to visit Catholic schools to distribute Miraculous Medals, tell the story of the Miraculous Medal, and provide blessings for students, staff, and faculty.

© The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal 2024