(This article originally appeared in the TAU-USA Fall 2023 Issue #110)

by Vickie Klick, OFS

Celebrating the Feast Day at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

2023 Chapter attendees on bus to St Louis Basilica-Cathedral

Off on a Day Away – Chapter attendees traveled to downtown
St. Louis for Mass and a tour of the St. Louis Basilica-
Cathedral on a record-breaking 104° day.

National Chapter attendees celebrated the feast of our patron, St. Louis IX, King of France, at a Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis at its 2023 Chapter on the feast day of St. Louis, Aug. 25. Fr. Tom Nairn, OFM, provincial of Sacred Heart province, was the celebrant.

Fr. Nairn is author of “A Franciscan Spirituality of Discernment”, the source of the National Fraternity’s theme “Listen, Discern, Go Forth.” He is provincial minister of the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart located in St. Louis.

St. Louis was king of France from 1226 to 1270. He is known for his kindness and service to the poor, which included making sure that those in his community were fed daily. He would often help serve the meals.

Fr. Tom’s homily reflected on how odd it seemed to have a king and a crusader as a patron of our order.  He connected the readings from Wisdom, 2 Timothy, and the parable of the talents from Luke to show St. Louis as a king who was a servant leader, who cared for the poor personally, who worked for peace, and who was a true evangelist. Using Francis’ Letter to All the Faithful, Fr. Tom presented St. Louis as a model of what it means to be a member of the Franciscan family.

The cathedral is a stupendous experience in itself and a representation of Byzantine and Romanesque design. The interior is covered with 83,000 square feet of mosaics, depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments, the religious history of the city of St. Louis, and, in the narthex, the life of St. Louis. One of the scenes shows St. Louis receiving the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis, our Secular Franciscan Order. It was very special to celebrate the feast there.

Originally designated a cathedral, it was given the distinction of a cathedral basilica in 1997 by Pope John Paul II who visited it in 1999. A basilica is the highest designation that can be given to a church building and is only bestowed by the Pope. The three signs that a church has been named a basilica are the presence of the Ombrellino (umbrella), Tintinnabulum (Bells), and the Papal Cross Keys. A cathedral is the home church for the bishop or archbishop of the diocese.