Basilica of St. Thérèse, Lisieux
|Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Basilique Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux (French)
Basilica of St. Thérèse in Lisieux
|Ecclesiastical or organizational status||Minor basilica|
|Architect(s)||Louis-Marie Cordonnier, Louis-Stanislas Cordonnier, Louis Cordonnier|
|Length||105 metres (344 ft)|
|Width||65 metres (213 ft)|
|Height (max)||90 metres (300 ft)|
The Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux (French: Basilique Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux) is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica dedicated to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Located in Lisieux, France, the large basilica can accommodate 4,000 people, and, with more than two million visitors a year, is the second largest pilgrimage site in France, after Lourdes. Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica on 2 June 1980.
St. Therese of Lisieux was beatified in 1923 and canonised in 1925. It was decided to build a large basilica dedicated to her in the city where she lived and died. The project was launched by the Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux, Bishop Thomas-Paul-Henri Lemonnier, and received the full support of Pope Pius XI who had placed his pontificate under the sign of St. Therese. Construction started in 1929 and finished in 1954. The basilica is located on a hill at the edge of the city. It was funded entirely by donations and special contributions from several countries from around the world, based on strong devotions to Saint Therese. The basilica thus contains 18 minor altars offered by different nations to St. Therese.
The basilica was blessed on 11 July 1937 by the papal legate Cardinal Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII). Works stopped for some time due to the Second World War, but then resumed and the basilica was completed in 1954. The basic structure, which was completed before the war, suffered little damage during the bombing, which destroyed two-thirds of Lisieux. On 11 July 1951, the basilica was consecrated by Most Reverend, the Archbishop of Rouen Joseph-Marie Martin, with the Papal Legate, Maurice Cardinal Feltin.
The construction was supervised by three architects from father to son, Cordonnier - Louis Marie, and his son Louis-Stanislas Cordonnier and his grandson Louis Cordonnier. The Roman-Byzantine style of the basilica was inspired by the Sacred Heart Basilica, Paris. The building is in the shape of a Latin cross, with nave, choir and transept. The cross is surmounted by an imposing dome. The internal volume is all in one piece, without collateral or ambulatory aisles. Hence due to the absence of columns, all the faithful who attend mass have an unobstructed view. Most of the interior of the basilica is covered with mosaics.
Completed in 1932, the crypt evokes the secret of the spiritual life of Saint Thérèse. It is decorated with marble and mosaics representing certain scenes in the life of St. Thérèse: baptism, first communion, miraculous healing, commitment to religious life, death.
In the summer of 1944 the townspeople who remained in Lisieux took refuge in the crypt of the basilica. The Carmelites of Lisieux, including St. Thérèse's two surviving sisters, lived in the crypt of the basilica that summer.
Built in the 1960s, the bell tower is separated from the main building and situated on the square. It was never completely finished, the priority has been given to charity. It contains 51 bells, or 6 to 45 and fly for carillon (all color). It gives concerts chime twice a day. The bell was donated by Belgium and Holland in the ex-voto to Saint Teresa.
Way of the cross
On the outside, behind the church there is a Way of the Cross where tombs of the parents of Saint Therese, Blessed Marie-Azélie Martin and Blessed Louis Martin were located from 1958 through 2008. The causes for their beatification were introduced in 1957. For the first time in the history of the Church, the two causes were united into one by Pope Paul VI. They were declared venerable by Pope John Paul II in 1994 and were beatified by Cardinal Saraiva Martins, the Pope's legate, in the Basilica of Saint Thérèse on Mission Sunday, 19 October 2008.
Built in 2000, the chapel of worship is a place for silent prayer. It can be entered through the Crypt. It was offered by the Irish ex-voto to Saint Teresa.
The basilica was featured in a TV show produced by "Catholic Destinations".
A French postage stamp of the Basilica of Lisieux was issued on 26 September 1960.
- Fabrice Maze, The Basilica of St. Therese of Lisieux, PubliAlp, Grenoble, ISBN 2-9522339-0-X
- Jean-Daniel Jolly Monge, The Mystery of Lisieux, Office Central de Lisieux, Lisieux, 2001. ISBN 2-9517460-0-8
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