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LA gets first basilica — the last mission church founded by St. Junipero Serra

Mission San Buenaventura

Michael Vi | Shutterstock - published on 07/17/20

Mission San Buenaventura was founded on Easter Sunday in 1782.

Pope Francis has elevated Mission San Buenaventura to the status of a Minor Basilica, the first basilica in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

The announcement of the papal honor was made on the Mission’s website on Wednesday, the feast of its patron, St. Bonaventure.

The Mission San Buenaventura was founded on Easter Sunday, March 31, 1782, by St. Junipero Serra. It was the ninth and last of the historic missions founded by the Franciscan saint.


Read more:
What is the difference between a basilica and a cathedral?

The original church building was destroyed by fire, and construction of a second church was abandoned when “the door gave way.” The present church was begun in 1792, but not completed until 1809. The church was dedicated on September 9 of that year, with the first Sunday liturgy celebrated the following day.

“This is holy ground”

News of Pope Francis’ decision to raise the Mission to the status of a Basilica was communicated to the archbishop of Los Angeles, Archbishop José Goméz, on June 30.

Following the announcement, Archbishop Goméz celebrated a special Mass at the Mission, joined by regional Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron and Father Tom Elewuat, San Buenaventura’s pastor.

During the liturgy, Archbishop Gomez explained, “When the pope designates a basilica, it means this is holy ground, that something beautiful and important in the history of salvation happened here.”

The designation of a church as a minor basilica is a recognition of its importance in the pastoral life of the local Church, often because of its historical significance, its status as a shrine, or because of the presence of major relics of a saint or of a notably venerated sacred image.

Read more:
Take a virtual pilgrimage to California’s historic Catholic missions

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