Patronages of the Immaculate Conception

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La Inmaculada Concepción de Maria by Juan Antonio de Frías y Escalante. Oil painting on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts. Córdoba, Spain.

In the Catholic Church, several locations around the world invoke the patronage of the Immaculate Conception. Catholic diocesan authorities with the expressed and written approval of the Pope in countries including Brazil, Korea, the Philippines, Portugal, Spain, and the United States of America list the Blessed Virgin Mary as their principal patroness.

As part of the patronage, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is often observed both religiously and culturally within these countries. Numerous national parades, processions and cultural festivities are associated with this patronage ranging from public holidays to holy day of obligation. Several Popes have conferred this title of patronage, sometimes initiated by bishops.

The list below enumerates the various countries by which the Pope, through a papal bull has formally granted the Immaculate Conception as the patroness of the people and its land or kingdom.

The list of Pontifical declaration does not include Ireland, Nicaragua and Portugal.


An image of the Immaculate Conception statue is venerated as national patron saint in Aparecida, Brazil.

The Virgin Mary is the official patroness of Brazil under the title Our Lady of Aparecida (Our Lady of Immaculate Conception (who) Appeared).[1] The image associated with this patronage received a canonical coronation on 8 December 1904 with approval from Pope Pius X.

On July 16, 1930, Pope Pius XI declared the Immaculate Conception under the title of Our Lady of Aparecida to be the principal patroness of Brazil, namely widespread in the Archdiocese of Saint Sebastian of River of January. The pontifical decree indicated that Pope Leo XIII granted the approval on the devotion of the image under the title "Fossa Behihora de Gonceigao Apparecida". In addition, Saint Pope Pius X established the Office of the Mass under this honor and allowing this devotion to spread due to the widespread piety of the Brazilian people. The decree mentions the 1904 solid gold crown given to the image (assumingly from Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil). It does not however, mention the shrine being elevated to a minor basilica. Furthermore, the devotion was researched and approved by Cardinal Camillo Laurenti, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites. The papal bull was signed and witnessed by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli.[2]

The shrine was given the title of minor basilica on 4 July 1980 by Pope John Paul II. It was awarded a golden rose by Pope Paul VI on 12 August 1967, and another by Pope Benedict XVI on 12 May 2007.[3][4]


On 7 December 1650, the Irish Catholic Confederation, on the verge of its final defeat by the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, declared the Virgin Mother of God, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the Kingdom of Ireland.

Information on this declaration, which was never formally adopted by the Church nor approved by any Papal decree, is given in a letter written six days later:

By a unanimous vote of the Supreme Assembly it was decreed that the Virgin Mother of God, under her title of her Immaculate Conception, should be solemnly and publicly proclaimed Patroness of the Kingdom of Ireland, and that as a perpetual memorial to the happy event, the feast of the Immaculate Conception should be solemnly observed in Ireland from that day forward until the end of time."[5][6][7]


A French image of the Immaculate Conception at the Myeongdong Cathedral.

Amidst Christian suspicion and persecution at the time, Pope Gregory XVI invested ecclesiastical interest in strengthening the first bishopric in Korea. In 1831, he established the first and only Apostolic Vicariate in Korea which survived no foreign Catholic priests since the anti-Catholic persecutions that went on earlier that year.[8][9] According to Cardinal Nicolas Cheong Jin-suk, in 1841, Pope Gregory XVI solemnly dedicated the Korean Catholic Church to the Virgin Mary under the title "Immaculate Virgin".[10] In addition, Cheong Jin-suk also mentioned that Pope Gregory XVI officially declared the Immaculate Conception as the Patroness of Korea and the Korean people in 1864.[11][12]

On May 6, 1984, Pope John Paul II reiterated this patronage by entrusting the Republic of Korea to the Virgin Mary, given at the Myeong-dong Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Seoul, Korea.[13] In the Apostolic Letter, John Paul II noted that Bishop Imbert Bum first consecrated Korea to the Immaculate Conception in 1837, followed by Bishop Jean Joseph Ferréol in 1846 along with Saint Joseph as its co-patron in the village of Surich’igol, nearby the city of Gongju.[11][12][14] According to the papal brief, a similar re-dedication of patronage to the Immaculate Conception was invoked on by the French Bishop Gustave Charles Mutel (1854-1933) on May 29, 1898.


In 1562, the brother of Saint Teresa of Avila, Don Lorenzo Ahumada brought this statue of the Immaculate Conception to Nicaragua, now venerated as Patroness of the Nicaraguan people

The Immaculate Conception of El Viejo is venerated as the national patroness of Nicaragua.

According to recorded history concerning this patronage, In 1562, Rodrigo de Ahumada y Cepeda, younger brother of Saint Teresa of Avila travelled to Chinandega, Nicaragua where he brought a statue of the Immaculate Conception now venerated by Nicaraguan Roman Catholics. Don Rodrigo initially meant to travel to Peru but ended up only making a temporary stay in El Viejo, Nicaragua due to the ravaging rainstorm which delayed his travel. He sought safety and comfort under the Franciscan friars in Chamulpa, now El Viejo, and later donated the statue.[15][16][17] The image was crowned by the Nicaraguan faithful for the first time in year 1747.[18]

On February 7, 1996, Pope John Paul II elevated the shrine to the rank of Basilica on his second apostolic visit to Nicaragua. On October 7, 1996, the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua conferred the title "The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo".[19] Finally, in May 13, 2001, the Episcopal Bishops' Conference of Nicaragua declared the Virgin Mary under this title be the National Patroness of the country.[20][21] In 2012, Nicaragua will celebrate the 450th annual patronage of the Immaculate Conception with grand parades and national festivities.

A popular custom (especially among children) in Nicaragua during this time is to gather in a group and sing several Marian hymns in front of people's houses where a statue of the Immaculate Conception is enshrined. Similar to caroling songs during Christmastime, children receive special candies or sweet treats given by the household after the conclusion of singing Marian hymns.

In Leon, Nicaragua, the feast is begun by a special day of penitence conducted each December 6, when the faithful take part in publicly cleaning all the silver treasures and accessories donated to the statue.[22] The event is also celebrated with a tradition called Griteria or "Shouting" in honor of the Virgin Mary's conception and is composed of grand parades, fireworks, candlelight processions, songs and various religious activities related to the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her maternal role in Roman Catholicism. Similar practices are observed in various other Catholic countries.


The statue of the Immaculate Conception in Manila Cathedral, sculpted by Italian artist Maestro Enzo Assenza.

In his papal bull Illius fulti praesidio, dated 6 February 1578, Pope Gregory XIII established the diocese of Manila[23] and decreed that its cathedral should be under the invocation of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.[24] The same invocation was given to the cathedrals of Nueva Segovia and Cáceres by Pope Clement VIII by decree of 13 August 1595.[24]

By the Apostolic Letter Impositi Nobis of 12 September 1942, Pope Pius XII, at the request of the bishops in the Philippines, declared the Virgin Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception as principal patroness of the Philippines with Saints Pudentiana and Rose of Lima as secondary patronesses, mentioning that the 1907 Provincial Council of Manila invoked "Maria Immaculata" as patroness of the whole Filipino people and that historical documents indicated Saint Pudentiana as Patroness of the Philippines from the 16th century and Saint Rose of Lima from the 17th.[25] In its final clause, this papal document rescinded Pope Pius XI's 16 July 1935 declaration of Our Lady of Guadalupe as the "Heavenly Patroness" of the Philippines.[26][27]

Among various fiestas and rituals honouring the Immaculate Conception's patronage is the annual "Grand Marian Procession" in Manila, where various statues of the Virgin Mary depicting her different titles and apparitions are borne in procession. The images are removed from their respective shrines and brought around the Spanish colonial capital district of Intramuros towards Manila Cathedral, which is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The event is administered both by the Cofradía de la Inmaculada Concepción and the Intramuros Administration.

The Philippines celebrated the 1954 Marian year by releasing a commemorative stamp featuring an image of the Immaculate Conception.[28]


The shrine of the Immaculate Conception, consisting of Madonna and Child Patroness of Portugal.

An image of the Immaculate Conception venerated in the Shrine of Our Lady of Conception of Villa Vicosa was donated by Saint Nuno Álvares Pereira from England.

On March 25, 1646, King John IV of Portugal proclaimed Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception the nation's patroness, so that 8 December is a special feast day in Portugal. Upon crowning the image since that time, the Portuguese monarchs of the House of Braganza renounced wearing a crown on their heads.

In addition, the king minted both gold and silver coins bearing his seal while on the other side bears the Immaculate Conception with the Latin phrase titled Tutelaris Regni.[29] In 1946, at the 300th anniversary of this royal declaration, the government of Portugal also released a postal stamp commemorating its patronage featuring the image of the Virgin Mary.

The first document invoking the Marian patronage is found the king's address to the National Royal Chambers dated June 30, 1654[30] and was next followed again in the Royal Provision of 1646.[31][32]

The statue's design is unlike most Immaculate Conception images, as the Virgin Mary carries a child Jesus rather than portrayed as being raised into Heaven.[33][34] On February 6, 1818, the Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa was erected in the Virgin Mary's patronal honor by King John VI of Portugal.[35][36][37] The feast marks one of the four national holidays in the Portugal.[38]


In 1760, Pope Clement XIII settled the heated dispute in Spain, supported by royal decree, installing the Immaculate Conception as the country's patroness

By Papal decree, the Immaculate Conception alone is the universal and national patroness of Spain, by virtue of a papal mandate issued by Pope Clement XIII in November 8, 1760, while Saint James the Greater remains, the same pope declared, the primary patron[39] of the Spanish people. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is also one of the nine national and public holidays and a holy day of obligation.

The patronage settles the dispute between a heated religious debate during the mid 1600s, when followers of the mythical figure Saint James Matamoros wished to impose him as the national patron saint versus the followers of Saint Teresa of Avila.

In 11 September 1759 the elected members of the Spanish Cortes petitioned King Charles III of Spain to request from the pope the "universal patronage of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in all the Kingdoms of Spain and the Indies".[40]

With the papal bull Quantum ornamenti of November 8, 1760 Pope Clement granted the request of King Charles III, declaring the Virgin Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the whole of the Kingdom of Spain along with its eastern and western territories,[41] (in the Americas and the Philippines).[42][43][44]

In another document, Pope Clement granted that the Spanish clergy could celebrate the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours on the feast and its octave with the texts used by the Franciscans rather than that in the Tridentine Roman Missal and Roman Breviary as revised by Pope Pius V, which did not attach the adjective "Immaculate" to the phrase "Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary".[45][46] On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the brief Dance of the Sixteen (Spanish: Los Seises) (the actual number of choirboys dancing has been reduced to twelve) is performed by choirboys dressed in white and blue in the Cathedral of Seville.[47] Since 1864, Mass vestments for the feast in Spain may be blue.[48] Many other Spanish cultural customs and religious processions are associated with the feast.

United States[edit]

On May 13, 1846, the United States bishops unanimously chose the Virgin Mary, conceived without sin, as patroness of the country, a decision approved by Pope Pius IX on February 7 of the following year and published in a decree of July 2, 1847.[49]

On 10 April 1848, a voting process and discussion was made on the regularisation of the rubrics for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception to be celebrated in that country. By 1849, this decree was published at the 7th Provincial Council of Baltimore.[50] The decrees were signed and witnessed by Cardinal Giacomo Filippo Fransoni.[51]

On July 8, 1914, Pope Pius X sent an apostolic letter to Archbishop of Baltimore Cardinal James Gibbons approving the patronage of the Immaculate Conception for the new construction site of the National Shrine.

On April 10, 1919, Pope Benedict XV reiterated this patronage and stated that he had ordered a mosaic of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception to be made in the Vatican Mosaic Studio for the shrine's high altar.[52]

In 1923 Pope Pius XI chose a mosaic version of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo's La Purísima Inmaculada Concepción for installation at the shrine,[53] which is the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States of America.

See also[edit]


  • Le Franc, Martin. The Conception of Mary -- A Rhyming Translation of Book V of Le Champion des Dames by Martin Le Franc (1410-1461). Ed. and trans. Steven Millen Taylor. Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2010.


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  2. ^ Acta Apostolica Sedis - 1931 - Page 7 - Beata Virgo Maria Immaculata Sub Titulo Apparecida - Principalis Patrona Brasiliae Constituitur. -[1931]%20-%20ocr.pdf
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  4. ^ "Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil". 1930-07-16. Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
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  7. ^ - Moran – Spicilegium Ossoriense 1, page 354. Die hujus Decembris, 1650, in generali Regni Assemblea, unio omnium Catholicorum, praeter et contra spem, acceptata et declarata est. Quod, quia in vigilia Immaculatae Conceptionis Beata Virgo factum est uno omnium voto acceptatum et decreto publico statutum est, ut Deipara Virgo sub Immaculatae Conceptionis titulo, esset Regni patrona, et dies ille tamquam solemnis et festus ad perpetuam rei memoriam toto regno deinceps perpetuo celebrabitur.
  8. ^ ""Bellonet and Roze: Overzealous Servants of Empire and the 1866 French Attack on Korea" by Kane, Daniel C. - Korean Studies, Annual 1999 | Questia, Your Online Research Library". Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  9. ^ True Doctrine in the Hermit Kingdom: A Brief Survey of the Catholic Church in Korea - Brother Zechariah Foreman, Order of Preachers, published May 4, 2004
  10. ^ Gheddo, Piero (2006-04-26). "SOUTH KOREA - NORTH KOREA Both North and South consecrated to the Immaculate Virgin, says Bishop of Seoul - Asia News". Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
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  12. ^ a b "Mary's Touch : Special Issue 2009". Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  13. ^ "Act of entrustment of Korea to Mary, 6 May 1984". Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  14. ^ "The Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosay of Namyang". Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  15. ^ "En fiesta de Patrona de Nicaragua Obispo pide diálogo a sus compatriotas". 2011-12-10. Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  16. ^ "Nuestra Seńora De La Concepción De El Viejo". Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  17. ^ "Inmaculada del Viejo". Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  18. ^ Ioannes Paulus II, Papam. Sanctuarium Nationale Nicaraguanum, quod beatae Mariae Virgini Immaculatae Conceptae dicatum, in urbe El Viejo, intra fines diocesis Leonensis in Nicaragua exstat, ad Basilicae Minoris gradum dignitatemque evehitur. Inter insigne sacras aedes dilectae Nicaraguanae Nationis merito recensetur templum Beatae Mariae Virgini immaculatae conceptae dicatum, quod in urbe El Viejo, intra fines diocesis Leonensis in Nicaragua exstans, sanctuarium nationale antiquitus habetur. ad istud enim christifideles e variis regionibus frequentes accedunt veneraturi gratiosam imaginem deiparae virginis eodem titulo invocatae, quae, ut fert historia, anno MDLVX fratre Roderico Sanctae Teresiae Abulensis allata, volvente anno MDCCXLVII inter iubilantes cives sollemni ritu coronata est. Qua re, cum venerabilis frater boscus Vivas Robelo, episcopus memoratae sedis, litteris anno MCMXCIV datis, etiam cleri populique sui nomini postulaverit ut templum idem titulo ac dignitat Basilicae minoris honestaremus, nos, praecipuae benevolentiae documentum cupientes praebere, tam sollertis pastoris precibus perquam libenters obsecundandum esse putamus. Ratis igitur plane habitis iis, quae congregatio de cultu divino et disciplina sacramentorum, tributis a nobis facultatibus, hac in re egit, summa apostolica potestate, harum litterarum virtute perpetuumque in modum sanctuarium nationale, quod diximus, ad basilicae minoris gradum dignitatemque evehimus, omnibus factis iuribus ac liturgicis concessionibus, quae sacris aedibus hoc nomine exornatis rite competunt, iis tamen servatis, quae secundum decretum, de titulo basilicae minoris, die ix mensis novembris anno MCMLXXXIX editum, servada sunt. minime, vero dubitamus quin concessus honor causa sit laetitiae carissimis Nicaraguanis filiis, quos proxime benignissimo dante deo, invisemus sollicitudine et affectu summi pastoris ecclesiae et universalis patris. has denique litteras nunc et in posterum ratas esse volumus, contrariis quisbulibet rebus non obstantibus. Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, sub annulo Piscatoris, die XX mensis Decembris, anno MCMXCV, Pontificatus Nostri duodevicismo. Angelus Cardinalem Sodano Secretariat Status
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  26. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis 28 (1936), pp.63f. - 16 Iulii (July) 1935. Pius XI. Beatissima Virgo Maria Sub Titulo de Guadalupa Insularum Philippinarum Coelestis Patrona Declaratur - [3]
  27. ^ Our Lady of Guadalupe: and Saint Juan Diego, the Historical Evidence. by Eduardo Chavez, Rowman and Littlefield Publishing. 2006. p. XXX
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  29. ^
  30. ^ Para que seja mais notória a obrigação que eu e todos meus vassalos temos de defender que a Virgem Senhora Nossa foi concebida sem pecado original, houve por bem resolver que em todas as portas e entradas das cidades, vilas e lugares de meus Reinos se ponha, em uma pedra lavrada, a inscrição de que será cópia esta carta: Encomendo-vos a façais pôr nas portas e lugares dessa cidade (ou vila) e me aviseis de como o tendes executado.
  31. ^ "Estando ora juntos em Cortes com os três Estados do Reino lhes fiz propor a obrigação que tínhamos de renovar e continuar esta promessa (de D. Afonso Henriques) e venerar com muito particular afecto e solenidade a festa de Sua Imaculada Conceição: E nelas com parecer de todos, assentámos de tomar por padroeira de Nossos Reinos e Senhorios a Santíssima Virgem Nossa Senhora da Conceição... e lhe ofereço de novo em meu nome e do Príncipe D. Teodósio meu sobre todos muito amado e prezado filho e de todos os meus descendentes, sucessores, Reinos, Senhorios e Vassalos à sua Santa Casa da Conceição sita em Vila Viçosa, por ser a primeira que houve em Espanha desta invocação, cinquenta escudos de ouro em cada um ano em sinal de Tributo e Vassalagem: E da mesma maneira prometemos e juramos com o Príncipe e Estados de confessar e defender sempre (até dar a vida sendo necessário) que a Virgem Maria Mãe de Deus foi concebida sem pecado original"
  32. ^ Santos de Cada Dia by Jose Leite, 1994. pp. 416-418
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  39. ^ "quin primarius Sancti Iacobi Apostoli dignoscatur patronus" (Civiltà Cattolica 1851, p. 129)
  40. ^ "La Inmaculada Concepción de María. Su verdad y su actualidad". Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  41. ^ "in universo Hispaniensi Regno, eiusque Orientalibus, Occidentalibusque Indiis" (Civiltà Cattolica 1851, p. 129)
  42. ^ "Vix Carolus III sceptrum suscepit, ad Reginae Coelorum pedes confestim illud libentissime locavit, utque omnes Hispaniae incolae tanto firmarentur patrocinio, tantoque munirentur praesidio, Sanctissimam Virginem in Conceptionis Immaculatae ineffabili mysterio totius regni elegit Patronam; huic adimplendo scopo, anno 1760 celebratis Comitiis, et ad Summum Pontificem Clementem XIII evectis precibus, die 8 Novembris ipsiusmet anni Bullam: Quantum ornamenti, impetravit, in qua Virginem sub glorioso Conceptionis mysterio in universo Hispaniensi Regno, eiusque Orientalibus, Occidentalibusque Indiis Patronam venerari decrevit quin primarius Sancti Iacobi Apostoli dignoscatur Patronus, praecipiensque etiam Summus Pontifex ecclesiasticos cunctos tam saeculares, quam Regulares hoc festum cum ritu primae classis diligenter servare, ac plenariam Indulgentiam impertiens omnibus, et singulis, qui conditiones Litteris Apostolicis praescriptas explerent." Pareri sulla definizione dogmatica dell'Immacolato Concepimento della Beata Virgine Maria (Civiltà Cattolica 1851), pp. 128-129
  43. ^ Expositio Iuris Pontificii Iuxta Recentiorem Ecclesiae Disciplinam: In Duas ... - Ubaldo Giraldi - Google Books. Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  44. ^ De ortu et progressu cultus, ac festi Immaculati conceptus beatae Dei ... - Marcus Antonius Gravois - Google Books. Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  45. ^ "Insuper ab ipso Maximo Pontifice ecclesiasticos omnes Missam celebrare posse, et officium divinum persolvere dei festi et octavae sicut Francisci Minorum Ordo celebrabat et persolvebat, etiam obtinuit" (Civiltà Cattolica 1851, p. 129)
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  49. ^ Sanctis Congregationis Generalis de Propaganda Fide Quo Deipara Virgo, Sine Labe Originali Concepta, Septentrionalis Americae Foederatae Provincialum Patrona Instituitur. PP 255-256 -
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