.- The Vatican has designated downtown Atlanta’s Sacred Heart Church the first Catholic basilica in Georgia. The Archbishop of Atlanta will celebrate a special Mass of elevation to mark the event at the church, which ministered to mission territory only a century ago.
The church, designed in a French Romanesque style by architect W.T. Downing, was dedicated in 1898. At the time, the Marist Fathers cared for the parish, which included all of North Atlanta and 9,500 square miles of mission territory.
“When our church was built in 1898, no sacrifice was too great and no effort was spared to make sure that this remarkably beautiful sanctuary would continue to honor God and inspire generations of worshippers,” commented parish pastor Fr. T.J. Meehan in a press release from the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
The parish has grown from 700 to 1,300 households in the last five years.
Archbishop of Atlanta Wilton D. Gregory will celebrate a Mass of elevation on August 21 at 10 a.m. The date coincides with the 130th anniversary of the parish’s founding in 1880.
The designation of a basilica specially honors important churches. The word “basilica” comes from the Greek word for “royal hall.” While the title of major basilica is reserved for the great Roman churches, the title of minor basilica recognizes important churches in Rome and abroad.