DEAR SUN SPOTS: I was wondering if you could find out how the Catholic churches get named? I know some are basilicas and some are cathedrals and some churches. Not being a Catholic, I don’t know. Thanks.
Now if you could just have a column on Sunday, the week would be perfect! — No Name via email
ANSWER: For an answer to your question, Sun Spots turned to Dave Guthro, communications director at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, who sent the following:
"All basilicas and cathedrals are churches, but not all churches are basilicas or cathedrals. Some cathedrals are basilicas, but not all basilicas are cathedrals. Somewhat confusing, but perhaps further details can provide some clarification.
"A church building would be your basic parish church, a building in which Catholic worship takes place and there is a consecrated altar.
"All cathedrals are churches, but they are the ‘Bishop’s church,’ located in the ‘See City’ of a diocese. For instance, Portland is the 'See City’ of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, so our cathedral is located here. A cathedral is the chief church of a diocese and in itself is also a parish church. The bishop is technically the pastor of the cathedral parish and can appoint a rector to manage its day-to-day spiritual and temporal affairs.
"The word cathedral comes from the Latin word cathedra, which means chair or seat. The cathedral literally houses the cathedra, or the bishop’s chair. The cathedra represents the position and authority of the bishop.
"Basilicas are churches that have been recognized and named basilica by the Holy Father in recognition of a variety of things, including their historical role, art or architecture in the life of a diocese. This is the highest permanent designation for a church building.
"Usually, these churches are built in basilica style, a parallelogram with the width of the building being neither greater than one-half nor less than one-third in length, with a portico at one end and an apse at the other. Most include traditional basilica items and features, like a ‘holy door,’ which is opened only during a time of special pilgrimage as declared by the Holy Father.
"For example, the year 2000 was declared a ‘holy year,’ and the holy door of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome was opened. However, it is important to note that the key criterion is that basilicas are places of historic and spiritual importance. For instance, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome refers to the historic and spiritual importance of the church itself and the honor bestowed upon it by the Pope.
"All basilicas outside of the city of Rome are considered minor basilicas, such as the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston. There are four major basilicas in the city of Rome.
"A shrine is a church or other sacred place where a relic is preserved. These are regulated by the local bishop. National shrines are designated by the national conference of bishops.
"As you can see, there can be distinctions but crossover as well. One church can actually be a basilica, a cathedral and a shrine, like the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, the first Catholic cathedral in the United States."
DEAR SUN SPOTS: For the person looking for meals delivered at home (Sept. 25), Schwan’s delivers once a week or every two weeks or so. They will set up a schedule for the person, and if you don’t need something when they come, you just say so. They have single-serving or family-size meals and quite a variety. The email is schwans.com or the phone number is 1-888-schwans (724-9267). Hope this helps. — No Name via email
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