Quezon City’s oldest church was formally declared a minor basilica on Monday, making it the 17th Catholic place of worship in the Philippines with such title and dignity.
The Franciscan-run Santuario de San Pedro Bautista was officially elevated to a minor basilica status in solemn rites led by Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao.
In his homily, he said that becoming a minor basilica is not only about its historical and patrimonial but a recognition of its special role and mission in evangelization.
The parish community led by its pastor, he said, is then challenged more than ever to seek new ways of service and to be steadfast in evangelization.
“But above all the church is mother because of her love for and thus this sanctuary must have that mark of motherhood, that charity that is the heart of all missionary efforts in the church,” Bishop Ongtioco said.
Being a basilica, he added, is not only a privilege but as in the case of any honor in the church, “it carries with it the obligation to service”.
Monday’s ceremony comes after Pope Francis in early June approved the petition to elevate the parish church into a minor basilica.
In making a church a basilica, a designation made through the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the pope declares the church to be one of his own.
There are over 1,800 minor basilicas in the world, and the second in the Cubao diocese.
The designation binds San Pedro Bautista to the four major basilicas in Rome: St. Peter, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul Outside the Walls.
Basilicas are granted the privilege of an “ombrellino” – a red and yellow, cone-shaped canopy — and a “tintinnabulum,” a bell mounted on a pole that can be carried in processions. Basilicas are also permitted to use the crossed “papal keys” on banners and signs.
The celebration also took place as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
Bishop Ongtioco encouraged the faithful to visit the minor basilica, especially those who are greatly affected by the situation.
“This has always been a place of rest and healing for troubled souls and it will continue to be,” he said.
The new minor basilica is one of the country’s oldest churches, which dates back to 1590. The church is located in the same area where the parish’s patron saint, San Pedro Bautista, stayed when he was in the Philippines.
St. Pedro Bautista is a Franciscan missionary and a known theologian, served in the country for 10 years before he was sent to Japan where he was martyred.