St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Canton is now known as The Basilica of St. John the Baptist. The announcement of the church’s elevated status came Tuesday.
Historic St. John the Baptist Catholic Church at 627 McKinley Ave. NW has been elevated to a “minor basilica” by the Vatican.
It’s now called the Basilica of St. John the Baptist.
According to the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, a decree granting the title was sent by the Vatican to Bishop George V. Murry on June 19.
St. John is the only minor basilicas in the diocese and one of just 74 in the U.S., said parish president George Mangus.
Ohio’s only other minor basilica is the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey.
“Within the church hierarchy, sites of worship fall into four categories: parish church, cathedral, shrines, and major and minor basilicas,” he explained. “The idea of being elevated to basilica status is an honorary title. It’s based on recognition that a particular parish church has a history, (significant) architecture, a history of social outreach and education worthy of being recognized.”
A MOTHER CHURCH
As a minor basilica, St. John is responsible for promoting the teachings of the church and the pope; for providing liturgical information; and for making appropriate provisions for the celebration of sacraments and other official devotions.
Mangus said the elevation also recognizes the role that St. John has played in the formation of Catholicism in Ohio.
“A lot of it stems from St. John as a ‘mother’ church of so many in the surrounding counties,” he said. “St. John was listed as a parish in 1823 before there was a Catholic church in many of Ohio’s larger cities. It also has a tradition and reputation for classical liturgy and sacred music.”
Mangus said St. John’s application for minor basilica status had been under discussion for some time.
“(It’s) been in discussion several years, when the diocese began the audit process to determine the future of the diocese and the viability of parishes now and the future, and what we see parishes becoming in the future,” he said.
The Catholic Church has nine major basilicas, which are located in Rome; Assisi, Italy; and Jerusalem. All other basilicas have “minor” status. Because a basilica is considered the pope’s church, St. John will display the pope’s personal coat of arms, as well as its own coat of arms that will identify it as a “Latera Basilica” or “Cathedral Church of the Pope.”
Mangus noted the application for elevation had to be written in Latin, the official language of the Vatican. They were assisted by Monsignor Michael Cariglio of Youngstown, who is fluent in Latin. Canton Museum of Art executive director M.J. Albacete furnished the required architectural review.
Murry submitted the application to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., which forwarded the application to the Holy See in Rome.
Page 2 of 2 - “What started out as six pages of questions turned into a 50- page document,” Mangus said. “We jokingly said then we were on ‘Vatican time.’ It was a three-year process.”
The first St. John was built in 1824 on five acres donated by John Shorb, a businessman who hosted the city’s first Catholic Mass in 1817. The current, 1870 edifice was designed by the Renwick & Kiely architectural firm, which also designed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. In 1974, St. John was added to the National Register of Historic Places on its 150th anniversary.
“The history of St. John and Canton parallel one another,” Mangus said.
Murry will celebrate a special Mass on Nov. 25 at St. John’s to recognize its elevation.