Newest Basilica in Diocese Dedicated

by Ed Wilkinson

More than 1,600 people packed Regina Pacis Basilica on Dec. 8 as Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio was the main celebrant of a Mass of thanksgiving for the elevation of the status of the church to the rank of a Minor Basilica.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio celebrated a Solemn Mass Dec. 8 to mark the dedication of the Basilica of Regina Pacis, Bensonhurst, the third church in the diocese to be so designated.

During the liturgy, the proclamation of the Decree granting the title of “Minor Basilica” to Regina Pacis was read by Msgr. Anthony Hernandez, chancellor of the diocese, and it was then presented to Bishop DiMarzio, who held it up for the standing room congregation to see.

Bishop DiMarzio was informed by Pope Benedict XVI of the decision to designate Regina Pacis Church as a minor basilica on Nov. 19.

Bishop DiMarzio also blessed the Tintinnabulum and Papal Ombrellino, two symbols of the church’s designation which will remain in the sanctuary of the basilica.

Designation as a basilica officially links the church in a special way to the pope. Should he ever visit there, the bells on the Tintinnbulum would ring, and he would be greeted at the entrance by the Ombrellino. Both items were purchased in Rome.

“It is with great joy that we received the news Regina Pacis is recognized with this honor,” said Bishop DiMarzio.

Msgr. Ronald Marino, pastor of St. Rosalia-Regina Pacis parish, said that the dedication weekend became known as Basilica Weekend around the parish. Auxiliary Bishop Frank Caggiano visited on Dec. 7 and celebrated Mass. On the Sunday after the dedication, Auxiliary Bishops Paul Sanchez and Raymond Chappetto celebrated Mass respectively in Spanish and English.

On Sunday, parishioners were treated to pancake breakfasts to celebrate the honor bestowed on their church. The Spanish apostolate was joined by a mariachi band.

Of the approximately 19,000 Catholic churches in the U.S., 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. Marino.

“It is obviously a tribute to the many Italian immigrants and their families who generously helped to build it in 1949 to 1951. The people here are very excited about this. They haven’t seen anything like this in quite a while.”

Msgr. Marino says that he plans to make the basilica a place of pilgrimage.

“Regina Hall has already been turned into a meeting room and a welcome center,” he explains. “Groups can hold meetings and conferences there. Already two parishes from New Jersey have expressed interest in coming here.”

At the dedication Mass, greetings from the Italian government were conveyed by Deputy Consul General Laura Aghilarre.

Special guests included members of the families of the late Ignazio Larussa, who painted the magnificent ceiling in the church, and the late Giuseppe DiAngelis, who made the special jewels that adorned the icon of Regina Pacis above the main altar.

The jewels normally are displayed only on Mother’s Day, but Msgr. Marino says that they additionally will be seen each year on Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

“The symbols of the Tintinnabulum and the Ombrellino are the way we make the pope more present in our liturgies,” says Msgr. Marino. “It means the pope is always present here.”

Plenary indulgences are gained by those who visit the basilica with the usual conditions of going to confession, receiving Communion and praying for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Bishop DiMarzio prepares the gifts during the Offertory at the Mass of dedication for Regina Pacis Basilica.
Msgr. Ronald Marino, pastor of St. Rosalia-Regina Pacis.
The engraving on the outside of the church designating the new basilica.
The outdoor procession begins the Mass on Dec. 8.
The Prayers of the Faithful are offered.
Women of the parish gather to celebrate their church’s honor.

Additional Photos