Winona Now Has a Minor Basilica

The diocese of Winona is announcing that St. Stanislaus Kostka church in Winona has been elevated the to the status of a Minor Basilica by Pope Benedict XVI. The decree from the Pope was  made on November 10, 2011 and announced to the congregation of St. Stanislaus this past weekend.

The papal decree is intended to “strengthen the relation of this church with the Chair of Peter and to make it an ideal center of special liturgical and pastoral ministry” in the diocese, said Archbishop J. Augustine De Noia, OP, the secretary to the Vatican congregation.

St. Stans, as those of us from Winona fondly call her, is a stunning building of beauty. It was built by the Polish immigrants in that city, literally by donation of dimes and nickels from the poor wage earners of the time. It has been remarkably preserved and restored.

One unspoken yet key person in all of this has been Deacon Justin Green who, with Janice Market and others, put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to gather and present all the materials and necessary paperwork for this to be forwarded to the Holy See.

Congratulations to all involved! To the rest of you, come to Winona and see St. Stans for yourselves!

Here is a copy of the press release from the diocese.

December 19, 2011

CONTACT: Joel Hennessy – Director of Stewardship and Advancement

Phone: 507-8581249




Through the faculties granted by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has declared that Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish, Winona, Minn., has assumed the status of “Minor Basilica,” emphasizing the special bond that the parish has with the Pope and with the whole Catholic Church. This Decree was made on November 10, 2011 and announced to the congregation this past weekend.

In May, His Excellency, Bishop John M. Quinn of the Diocese of Winona sent a petition to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, an office of the Vatican, so that Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish, Winona, might take on the status of “Minor Basilica.” In November, the Congregation replied in favor of the petition, conferring this title of Minor Basilica on the parish. The decree is intended to “strengthen the relation of this important church with the Chair of Peter and to make it an ideal center of special liturgical and pastoral ministry” in the diocese, Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, OP, the secretary to the Vatican congregation wrote to Bishop Quinn.

One way the link is demonstrated is by celebrating feasts in a special way that are linked to the papal office, including the feast of the Chair of Peter, the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul and the anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. The papal symbol of crossed keys may be exhibited on banners and furnishings and on the seal of the basilica and those who devoutly make a visit to the basilica on certain feast days may obtain a plenary indulgence.

”Saint Stanislaus Kostka is now a member of a small number of churches in the United States to be recognized as a Minor Basilica, and only the second in Minnesota. The other being the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, which was the first U.S. church designated as a basilica in 1926.” stated Bishop Quinn. “It is a very significant and important occasion for not only the parish and the diocese, but the entire region.”

The word basilica comes from the Greek term for “royal hall.” There are two kinds of basilicas: major basilicas, the six great Roman churches, and the minor basilicas, which are important churches in Rome and abroad which the Holy Father has honored with this title.

A church designated as a minor basilica must be a center of active and pastoral liturgy with a vibrant Catholic community and may have unique historical, artistic or religious importance. In seeking the distinction, the parish must provide a detailed report with an albumof photographs documenting the origin, history and religious activity of the church and its exterior and interior form, particularly regarding celebration of the sacraments.

Conferring the title of Minor Basilica is also a formal recognition of the beauty and dignity of the parish church. Father Thomas Hargesheimer, pastor of Saint Stanislaus Kostka, says that one of the reasons that the petition was sent was due the extraordinary architectural quality of the parish, as well as the significant Polish heritage that accompanies it.

“We really wanted to recognize the Polish immigrants that settled in the Winona area. Their heritage has had such a large impact on the development of the region. We also want to honor this parish as a faith community that contributes to not only the religious aspects of the community, but also the secular side of society as well,” said Father Hargesheimer.

This church was built and paid for by Polish immigrants and dedicated to God in honor of St. Stanislaus Kostka, a popular saint from Poland on Thanksgiving Day 1895. Now, alongwith The Polish Cultural Institute, more commonly known as The Polish Museum, Winona has truly become a destination and pilgrimage center for people of Polish heritage. Fr. Paul Breza, founder of the museum said “the news about St. Stans is very exciting – the church was built on “nickels and dimes” by the Polish immigrants during a time when wages were only around a dollar per day. This will be a great opportunity for people to learn more about the Polish heritage of Winona.”

Fr. Hargesheimer said a Mass of elevation, with Bishop Quinn presiding, will take place in 2012 at a date to be announced. For more information, contact the Saint Stanislaus Parish office by calling (507)452

5430 or emailing




The Diocese of Winona encompasses 13,000 square miles of the southern 20 counties of Minnesota, serving a population of more than 131,000 Catholics. Currently, there are 114 parishes/missions, over 100 active and retired priests, 365 sisters, 21 religious brothers, 21 deacons and over 180 professional lay ministers. There are 29 Catholic Schools and a Catholic university for women and men, St. Mary’s University. Bishop John M. Quinn was installed as the Eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Winona on May 7, 2009, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Winona, the home parish of the diocesan bishop. For more information, visit the website:

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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