Domus ecclesiae
Dec 31, 2007

Domus ecclesiae

Domus ecclesiae

Home | Join/Donate

Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy

Domus ecclesiae

Norms for the Granting of the Title of Minor Basilica
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disicipline of the Scaraments
 November 9, 19891

1. The "house of the Church" or the house of God and of the Christian community has always stood out as one of the special signs of holy Church herself, the Bride of Christ, present and on pilgrimage in the world.

2. The beauty and glory of a church and its fitting arrangement for liturgical celebrations have at various times been ordered by appropriate norms.

3. Among the churches of any diocese the cathedral church holds the first place and the greatest dignity. In it is placed the cathedra [the Bishop’s chair], the sign of the Bishop’s teaching authority and power, as pastor of the same diocese and the sign of communion with the Roman cathedra of Peter. Next there are the parish churches, which are the homes of the various communities of the diocese. In addition, there are shrines to which the Christian faithful of the diocese or of other local Churches go on pilgrimage.

4. Among these churches and others of different categories are found some that have particular importance for liturgical and pastoral life. These may be honored by the Supreme Pontiff with the title of minor basilica, thereby signifying their particular link with the Roman Church and the Supreme Pontiff.

5. Norms concerning minor basilicas were established after the Second Vatican Council in the Decree Domus Dei promulgated on 6 July 1968 by the SC Rites.2

6. Attentive to more recent liturgical documents and after the experience of the passing years, the CG Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments considers it opportune to adjust the aforementioned norms to present circumstances as follows.

I. Conditions for Obtaining the Title of Minor Basilica.

7. A church for which the title of basilica is proposed must have been dedicated to God by a liturgical rite and must stand out as a center of active and pastoral liturgy, especially through celebrations of the Most Holy Eucharist, of penance, and of the other sacraments, which celebrations set an example for others on account of their preparation and realization according to liturgical norms and with the active participation of the people of God.

8. To further the possibility of truly carrying out worthy and exemplary celebrations, the aforesaid church should be of an appropriate size and with a sufficiently large sanctuary. The various elements required for the liturgical celebration (altar, ambo [lectern], celebrant’s chair) must be placed according to the requirements of the restored liturgy.3

9. The church may enjoy a certain renown throughout the diocese, for example, because it has been constructed and dedicated to God on the occasion of some particular historical and religious event, or because the body or significant relics of a saint are reserved in it, or because some sacred image is there venerated in a special way. The historical value or importance of the church and the worthiness of its art are also be considered.

10. So that, as the liturgical year progresses, the celebrations of the various seasons may be carried out in a praiseworthy manner, a fitting number of priests is necessary; they are to be assigned to the liturgical and pastoral care of the church, especially for the celebration of the Eucharist and penance (there should also be an appropriate number of confessors who at stated hours are available to the faithful). In addition, a sufficient number of ministers is required as well as an adequate schola cantorum, which is to encourage the participation of the faithful with sacred music and singing.

II. Documents to be Produced for Granting the Title of Basilica

11. Documents to be sent to the CG Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments:

  • the petition of the local Ordinary, even if the care of the church is entrusted to some religious community;
  • the nihil obstat or favorable judgment of the national Episcopal Conference;
  • brochures or a report concerning the origin, history, and the religious activity of the church (its worship life and its pastoral associations and charitable works);
  • an album of photos illustrating the exterior and interior form of the church but particularly the arrangement of the sanctuary (altar, ambo [lectern], celebrant’s chair) and the other places intended for carrying out celebrations (seats for ministers and servers; baptistery or baptismal font; the place for reserving the Eucharist and places designed for the celebration of the sacrament of penance);
  • information about the church as indicated in the questionnaire supplied at the time and which must be completed and returned to this dicastery.

III. Offices and Duties Proper to a Basilica in the Liturgical and Pastoral Area

 12. In a minor basilica the liturgical instruction of the faithful is to be promoted by establishing groups concerned with liturgical activity, by special courses of instruction given in a series of conferences, and by other programs of this kind. Among the special activities of a basilica may be especially mentioned the study and popularization of documents coming from the Supreme Pontiff and the Holy See, especially those pertaining to the sacred liturgy.

13. The celebrations of the liturgical year are to be prepared and carried out with great care, especially the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. During Lent, in places that preserve the traditional form of gathering the local Church in the manner of the Roman "stations,”4 it is highly recommended that a basilica be chosen for celebrating this kind of station. The word of God is to be diligently proclaimed either in homilies or in special sermons. The active participation of the faithful is to be promoted both in the eucharistic celebration and in the celebration of the liturgy of the hours, especially at Morning and Evening Prayer. In addition, approved forms of devotion are to be suitably fostered.

14. Since the celebration of the liturgy takes on a more noble form when it is carried out in song, care must be taken that gatherings of the Christian faithful be associated with the singing of the various parts of the Mass, especially those found in the "Ordinary."5 In a basilica where the faithful from different nations or languages frequently come together, it is useful that they should know how to sing together in Latin the profession of faith and the Lord’s Prayer, using more simple melodies like those composed in Gregorian chant which is "proper to the Roman liturgy."6

15. To make clear the particular bond of communion by which the minor basilica is united with the Roman cathedra of Peter, every year there must be celebrated with particular care:

a. the feast of the Chair of Peter (22 Feb.);

b. the solemnity of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul (29 June);

c. the anniversary of the Supreme Pontiffs election or inauguration into the supreme pastoral ministry.

IV. Concessions Connected with the Title of Minor Basilica

16. The day on which the concession of the title of basilica to a certain church is publicly announced should be prepared for and observed in a festive way with appropriate sermons, prayer vigils, and other celebrations, all taking place not only on the days immediately preceding the proclamation of the title but also on those immediately afterwards. On all these days, provided there does not occur a liturgical day listed in no. I, 1-4 or II, 5–6 of the table of precedence in the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, there may be celebrated the Mass and the liturgy of the hours of the title of the church or of the saint or of the holy image which is especially venerated there; or "for the local Church" or "for the Pope." On the day of the proclamation itself, the Mass of that day is celebrated or one of the Masses indicated above, according to the norm of the rubrics. At the beginning of the celebration, before the Gloria, the apostolic brief or decree of concession by which the church is raised to the status of basilica is read in the vernacular.

17. The faithful who devoutly visit the basilica and within it participate in any sacred rite or at least recite the Lord’s Prayer and the profession of faith may obtain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Supreme Pontiff):

a. on the anniversary of the dedication of the same basilica;

b. on the day of the liturgical celebration of the title;

c. on the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul;

d. on the anniversary of the granting of the title of basilica;

e. once a year on a day to be determined by the local Ordinary;

f.  once a year on a day freely chosen by the each of the faithful.

18. The papal symbol, that is, "crossed keys," may be exhibited on banners, on furnishings, and on the seal of the basilica.

19. The rector of the basilica or the person in charge of it may wear in the exercise of his office — over the cassock or the religious habit and the surplice — a black mozetta [cape] with red piping, buttons, and button holes.

From the Congregation, this ninth day of November, 1989, the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. 

Eduardus Card. Martinez Prefect 

Ludovicus Kada Archbishop Secretary


1AAS 82 (1990) 436—440; Notitiae 26 (1990) 13—17
2AAS 60 (1968) 536—539.
3Cf. GIRM nos. 253-280.
4Cf. RM, the beginning of the season of Lent; Ceremonial of Bishops nos. 260-262. 
5Cf SC art. 54 [DOL 1 no. 54]; SCR, Instr. Musicam sacram.
6Cf. SC art. 116 [DOL 1 no. 116]; GIRM no. 19.
7GNLYC no. 59




"Domus ecclesiae " seu domus Dei et communitatis christianae sem-per exstitit unum e signis praecipuis ipsius sanctae Ecclesiae, Christi sponsae, quae in mundo praesens est ac peregrinatur.

Pulchritudo eius ac decus, necnon apta eius dispositio ad celebratio­nes liturgicas peragendas, temporibus diversis per congruas normas sunt ordinata.

Inter ecclesias alicuius dioecesis principem tenet locum atque maio­rem dignitatem ecclesia cathedralis, in qua collocatur cathedra, signum ma­gisterii potestatisque Episcopi, eiusdem dioecesis Pastoris, et signum com­munionis cum romana Petri cathedra. Deinde sequuntur ecclesiae paroe­ciales, quae sunt sedes diversarum dioecesis communitatum. Insuper sanc­tuaria, quo peregrinantur christifideles dioecesis, vel aliarum Ecclesiarum localium.

Has inter ecclesias et ceteras diversae nominationis nonnullae inve­niuntur, peculiare momentum habentes quoad vitam liturgicam et pasto­ralem, quae a Summo Pontifice titulo Basilicae Minoris decoraci possunt, quo vinculum peculiare cum Ecciesia romana et Summo Pontifice signifi­catur.

Normae de Basilicis Minoribus statutae sunt, post Concilium Vatica-nuln II, in Decreto « Domus Dei » die 6 iunii 1968 a Sacra Rituum Congregatione promulgato (A.A.S. LX, 1968, 536-539).

Recentioribus liturgicis documentis attentis atque post experientiam praeteritis annis factam, Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sa­cramentorum opportunum ducit praedictas normas odiernis circumstan­tüs aptare, uti sequitur.


1. Ecclesia, pro qua titulus Basilicae postulatur, Deo dicata esse debet ritu liturgico et in dioecesi centrum exstare actuositatis liturgicae et pa­storalis, praesertim per celebrationes SS. Eucharistiae, Paenitentiae et ce-terorum sacramentorum, quae sint aliis in exemplum ob earundem prae­parationem et exsecutionem, normis liturgicis fideliter servatis atque cum actuosa populi Dei participatione.

Ut possibilitas dignas et exemplares celebrationes peragendi revera habeatur, ecclesia praedita esse debet congrua magnitudine atque sufficienti presbyterii amplitudine. Elementa varia quae pro liturgica celebratione requiruntur (altare, ambo, sedes celebrantis) collocentur secundum exigentias Liturgiae instauratae (cf. Missale Romanum, Institutio generalis, nn. 253-280).

Ecciesia in universa dioecesi quadam celebritate gaudeat, verbi gra­tia quia aedificata est et Deo dicata occasione cuiusdam peculiaris eventus historici-religiosi, aut in ea asservatur corpus vel insignis reliquia alicuius Sancti aut quaedam sacra imago modo particulari colitur.

Perpendenda quoque erunt ecclesiae valor seu momentum historicum eiusque artis decus.

Ut in ecclesia anno liturgico volvente celebrationes diversorum temporum laudabiliter peragi possint, necessarium est congruum haberi numerum presbyterorum, qui curae liturgicae-pastorali ipsius ecclesiae sint addicti, praesertim pro celebratione Eucharistiae et Paenitentiae (con­gruus etiam numerus confessariorum, qui statutis horis praesto sint fideli­bus).

Insuper requiritur sufficiens numerus ministrantium necnon adaequa­ta schola cantorum, ad fidelium participationem fovendam etiam musica et cantu sacris.


Documenta quae ad Congregationem de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum mitti debent:

Petitio Ordinarii loci, etiamsi ecclesiae cura concredita sit cuidam religiosae communitati;

Nihil-obstat seu iudicium favorabile Conferentiae Episcoporum Nationalis; Opuscula vel relatio de origine, historia et religiosa ecclesiae ac­tuositate (actuositas cultus et pastoralis, quoad consociationes et opera ca­ritatis);

Album imaginum luce impressarum seu photos, quae ecclesiae for­mam exteriorem et interiorem illustrent, modo vero particulari, quomo­do disposita snit presbyterium (altare, ambo, sedes celebrantis) ceterique loci et sedes celebrationibus peragendis destinata (sedes ministrorum et ministrantium; baptisterium seu fons baptismalis; locus Eucharistiae as­servandae et locus ac sedes sacramenti Paenitentiae celebrationi destinata);

Notitiae circa ecclesiam prout indicantur in « Quaestionario » ad hoc apparato, qui compleri debet atque ad hoc Dicasterium remitti.


Apud Basilicam Minorem promoveatur liturgica fidelium institu­tio, coetibus de actione liturgica constitutis necnon peculiaribus cursibus instructionis, collationum seriebus aliisque huiusmodi inceptis.

Inter Basilicae opera plurimum tribuatur studio et vulgationi docu­mentorum Summi Pontificis et Sanctae Sedis, praesertim illorum, quae ad sacram Liturgiam respiciunt.

Magna cum cura praeparentur et peragantur anni liturgici celebra­tiones, modo peculiari tempore Adventus, Nativitatis, Quadragesimae et Paschae.

Tempore Quadragesimae, ubi tradita forma congregationis Ecclesiae localis ad modum « stationum » romanarum servatur (cf. Missale Roma­num, initio Temporis Quadragesimae; Caeremoniale Episcoporum, nn. 260-262) valde commendatur ut ipsa Basilica eligatur ad huiusmodi « statio » celebrandam.

Verbum Dei sedulo annuntietur sive in homilia sive in extraordina­riis praedicationibus.

Promoveatur actuosa participatio £idelium turn in eucharistica cele­bratione turn in celebratione Liturgiae Horarum, praesertim vero ad Laudes et Vesperas. Insuper probatae pietatis popularis formae digne colantur.

Cum actio liturgica nobiliorem formam accipiat quando in cantu peragitur, cura habeatur ut christifidelium coetus diversarum Missae par­tium se cantui socient, praesertim earum, quae in « Ordinario » inveniun­tur (cf. Constitutio Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 54; Sacra Rituum Con­gregatio, Instructio Musicam Sacram, die 5 martii 1967 data).

In Basilica quo fideles ex diversis nationibus vel linguis frequentius conveniunt, expedit ut iidem fideles symbolum fidei et orationem domi­nicam, melodiis facilioribus adhibitis, uti Bunt illae cantus gregoriani, « Liturgiae Romanae proprii » (cf. Constitutio Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 116), lingua latina simul cantare sciant (cf. Missale Romanun, Institutio generalis, n. 19).

Ad peculiare communionis vinculum planum faciendum, quo Basi­lica Minor ac romana Petri cathedra uniuntur, quotannis particulari cura celebrentur:

festum Cathedrae S. Petri (die 22 februarii); sollemnitas SS. Apostolorum Petri et Pauli (die 29 iunii); anniversarium electionis vel initii supremi ministerii pastoralis Summi Pontificis.


Dies qua titulus Basilicae ab Apostolica Sede cuidam ecclesiae con­cessus publice nuntiatur, praeparetur et festive peragatur congruis praedi­cationibus, orationis vigiliis aliisque celebrationibus, diebus sive ante sive post tituli proclamationem.

Diebus istis celebrara possunt Missa et Liturgia Horarum ecclesiae ti­tuli vel Sancti aut imaginis sacrae quae in ecclesia modo peculiari colun­tur vel « pro Ecclesia locali » aut « Pro Papa», dummodo non occurrat dies liturgicus in nn. I, 1-4; II, 5-6 tabulae praecedentiae inscriptus (cf. Normae universales de Anno Liturgico et de Calendario, n. 59).

Die quo fit tituli proclamatio celebretur Missa illius diei vel una ex Missis supra indicatis, ad normam rubricarum. Initio celebrationis ante Gloria fit lectio Brevis Apostolici vel Decreti concessionis quo ecclesia in Basilicam evehitur, in textu sermone vulgari exarato.

Fideles Basilicam pie visitantes et in ea aliquem sacrum ritum par­ticipantes vel saltem orationem dominicam ac fidei symbolum recitantes, sub suetis condicionibus (sacramentali confessione, eucharistica commu-nione et oratione ad mentem Summi Pontificis), Plenariam Indulgentiam assequi valent: die anniversaria Dedicationis eiusdem Basilicae; die liturgicae celebrationis titularis; in sollemnitate SS. Apostolorum Petri et Pauli; die anniversaria a concessione tituli Basilicae; semel in anno die ab Ordinario loci, determinando; semel in anno die ab unoquoque fideli libere eligendo.

Signum pontificium, id est « claves decussatae », adhiberi poterit in vexillis, in supellectile, in sigillo Basilicae. « Rectori » Basilicae, seu el qui ipsi Basilicae praeest, uti licet in munere exercendo — super vestem talarem vel vestem familiae religiosae et superpelliceum — mozeta nigri colorís, cum oris, ocellis et globulis co­loris rubra.

Ex aedibus Congregationis, die 9 novembris 1989, in festo Dedicatio­nis Basilicae Lateranensis.




The Editors