Thursday, April 23, 2015

National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, "the Little Flower," was canonized on May 17, 1925. The next year, a parish under her patronage was established in a largely-Protestant area of Royal Oak. Two weeks after it opened, the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross in front of the church. 

Construction of the current church was funded by the proceeds of the radio ministry of the controversial pastor, Fr. Charles Coughlin, who broadcast from the tower during the 1930s. The church was constructed in two stages between 1931 and 1936. On St. Patrick's Day of 1936, the original wood church was destroyed by fire.

The first section to be completed was the Charity Crucifixion Tower. The central figure is 25' tall crucifix on the Woodward side. It and other figures were created by Rene Paul Chambellan, a New Jersey-based sculptor. The top corners of the tower feature symbols of the four evangelists. Beneath the crucifix are the Seven Last Words.

Henry J. McGill, of the New York firm McGill and Hamlin, designed the current church in the Art Deco style and its built of granite and limestone.

In 1998, it became one of the first five churches in the country given the National Shrine designation by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Archbishop Allen Vigneron announced on January 31, 2015 that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, granted the title of Minor Basilica to the National Shrine of the Little Flower. The title is given to churches around the world to denote a particular importance in liturgical and pastoral life and a closer relationship with the pope. This is the second church in Michigan, after Basilica of St. Adalbert in Grand Rapids, and 82nd in the U.S. to be declared a basilica.

The octagonal nave supposedly seats 3,000 on two levels. There were nearly 2,000 present for the Mass of Thanksgiving on April 22, 1025.
Via The Michigan Catholic
It is the third-largest building in the city of Royal Oak, standing at the northeast corner of Woodward and 12 Mile. One of the archdiocese's largest parishes, Shrine consists of more than 3,500 families and operates its own grade school and high school. 

A large baldacchino hangs above the altar.

Like many churches, the basilica is formed in the shape of a cross with the tabernacle at the head of the cross. Now that Shrine is a basilica, there are some signs denoting such, including white and gold banners. The traditional ombrellino (red & gold umbrella) and tintinnabulum (bell) are yet be added but will soon be installed in the sanctuary.

A statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus stands in the southeast transept while St. Jude is in the northwest.

Octagonal alcoves with St. Joseph and St. Mary, Queen of All Saints, flank the tabernacle.

The pulpit, on the second level, features intricate carvings on its facade.

A depiction of the Holy Spirit appears above the pulpit.

A skylight, above the tabernacle, on the second level.

The marble altar measures 12' long x 4'10" wide x 3' tall. The Lamb of God is engraved on the side that faces the tabernacle.

Two peacocks are shown on the opposite side of the altar. In early Christianity, peacocks represented immortality because it was believed their bodies did not decay after death. The "eyes" in a peacock's feathers also represent the all-seeing God.

The Stations of the Cross were created by noteworthy sculptor Corrado Parducci. He also created work for Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, University of Detroit, several Detroit office builldings, and much more.

The St. Thérèse chapel, including the baptismal font, is located opposite the tabernacle at the southwest corner of the basilica.

Statues of St. Anthony and St. Christopher in a hallway.

Daily Mass is celebrated at 6:30am and 8:30am, Monday-Friday. Saturday Vigil Mass is at 4:30pm and 6:30pm. Mass is celebrated six times every Sunday, beginning at 7:30am, 9:00am, 10:45am, 12:30pm, 4:00pm (Spanish) and 6:00pm. Confessions are heard after the 6:30am daily Mass as well as before and after 4:30pm Saturday Mass.

Fr. Robert Fisher has been pastor for about a year; since the death of longtime pastor Msgr. William Easton. Fr. Fisher is assisted by associate pastors Fr. Joseph Lang, Fr. Patrick Gonyeau and Fr. Ryan Adams as well as Deacon Thomas Avery.

National Shrine of the Little Flower is one of few parishes that has a perpetual adoration chapel, located just southeast of the church. A depiction of the Last Supper is located outside the chapel.

A statue of the patroness stands near the adoration chapel along with Stations of the Cross.

For more info: parish website
3-D virtual tour, which includes the sacristy: Detroit Free Press

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