Basilica of St. Lawrence, Asheville

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The Minor Basilica of Saint Lawrence
Front to Basilica of St. Lawrence Asheville NC.jpg
A view of the front of the Basilica of St. Lawrence from the street
Basic information
Location Asheville, North Carolina, United States
Affiliation Roman Catholic Church
Rite Latin Rite
District Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte
State North Carolina
Status Minor Basilica
Leadership Very Rev. Wilbur N. Thomas V.F., Rector
Architect(s) Rafael Guastavino
Architectural style Spanish Baroque
Completed 1905

The Minor Basilica of St. Lawrence the Deacon & Martyr is a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church located in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, United States. The basilica was designed and built in 1905 by Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino along with his fellow architect R. S. Smith and the surrounding Catholic community of Asheville.[1] The basilica is on the National Register of Historic Places and was elevated in status to minor basilica in 1993 by Pope John Paul II. It is the only basilica in western North Carolina. The basilica's dome has a span of 58 by 82 feet (18 by 25 m) and is reputed to be the largest freestanding elliptical dome in North America.[2] It is located in the Downtown Asheville Historic District.

Church interior[edit]

The inside of the church is adorned with statues of saints, including St. Lawrence, St. Cecilia, St. Rose of Lima, St. Patrick, and St. Peter the Apostle. The statues were made by the Daprato Statue Company in Italy. The high altar is made from marble found in Tennessee. On the front of the High Altar is a fresco painting of the Last Supper. Above the high altar in the sanctuary is a Spanish wood carving of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John the Beloved Disciple mourning at the crucifixion of Christ. Behind the wood carving of the crucifixion and covering the entire apse wall are polychrome terra cotta ornamental partitions of the Four Evangelists and two of the archangels, St. Raphael and St. Michael.

Stained glass windows[edit]

The basilica is known for its many elaborate stained glass windows, many which were made in Munich, Germany. On the right wall of the basilica, the windows depict the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Nativity of Christ, the Child Christ teaching in the Temple, and the Conversion of Saint Paul. On the left wall the windows depict the Wedding at Cana, Christ healing the Daughter of Jairus, the Calming of the Wind and Waves, the Agony in the Garden, and the Resurrected Christ appearing to St. Mary Magdalene. The two large windows, one on the eastern wall and one on the western wall, represent Christ healing the afflicted and the Transfiguration of Christ. The large window in the organ loft portrays the Resurrection of Christ.


To the right and the left of the high altar are two chapels.

Chapel of Our Lady[edit]

The first chapel, to the left of the altar, is a lady chapel named "Chapel of Our Lady" that contains a Marian altar made of marble, with a statue of Our Lady of the Assumption adorned by two angels. On the front of the Marian altar are carvings of St. Margaret, St. Lucia, St. Cecilia, St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Barbara, St. Agnes, St. Agatha, and St. Rose of Lima. Forming a frame around the altar are a series of tiles with the names of the Virgin Mary selected from the Litany of the Blessed Virgin and in the center is a fragment of an Italian marble depicting the Nativity of Christ. Above the Marian altar are seven doves that represent the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the chapel depict the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Czestochowa, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Annunciation with votive candles under each icon. The two stained glass windows in the chapel are of Our Lady, Star of the Sea and Saint Raphael the Archangel. In the back left of the chapel is the crypt of Rafael Guastavino.[2]

Eucharistic Adoration chapel[edit]

The second chapel, to the right of the main altar, is the "Eucharistic Adoration Chapel", originally called the "Chapel of Saint Joseph". The chapel is used for eucharistic adoration and private prayer.[2] The Holy Eucharist is displayed on the chapel's altar before and after Mass for adoration, prayer, and meditation. The stained glass window above the altar depicts the Nativity of Christ, similar to the tile painting in the Marian chapel. The eastern wall's window is a stained glass painting depicting the death of St. Joseph in the arms of his family: Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The smaller window in the chapel depicts the deacon and martyr St. Lawrence, whom the basilica is named after. The chapel's altar and part of the apse wall are a mosaic of bits of tile assembled by Father Peter Marion and Father Patrick Marion, who were priests during the construction of the basilica.

Church grounds[edit]

The basilica contains a rectory for the priest, as well as a Catholic library and a gift shop for tourists, which are opened after weekend Masses.[3][4] Behind the basilica is a Mary garden, which contains a life-size white statue of the Virgin Mary.



External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°35′50″N 82°33′22″W / 35.5972°N 82.5562°W / 35.5972; -82.5562