r. In the Diocese of Bridgeport the only church which ranks higher than Saint John’s is the Cathedral of Saint Augustine, the seat of the bishop, which holds first place and the greatest dignity. The Basilica enjoys a special relationship with the Pope because it becomes his church, especially should he visit the diocese.
In order for Saint John’s to have been recognized as a minor basilica by the Holy Father, upon recommendation by those concerned with such work, certain criteria had to be followed as outlined by the 1989 document, Domus Ecclesiae
(the House of God). Namely, that the church be exemplarly noted for her praying the Liturgy, the sacred music performed for prayer, the teaching of the faith, a place of beauty, enjoy a good reputation in the diocese and a place of pilgrimage for the faithful.
There are three ecclesiastical symbols (“decoration”) for the new basilica to display, two originated for papal processions: 1) the liturgical umbrella, also called the papal pavilion (umbraculum) used to shield the pope from harsh weather and to signal the pope’s movement through the streets; the pavilion is constructed in the yellow and white papal colors used since the 9th century which originally were the colors of the Roman Senate; 2) the papal bell (tintinabulum) which announces a pope’s arrival; and 3) the basilica is privileged to use of the papal symbols of the tiara with crossed keys in a design of a coat of arms (seen to the right),
The coat of arms was designed by heraldic artist, the Very Reverend Canon Matthew R. Mauriello, pastor of Saint Roch’s Church, Greenwich, CT. The motto, “Behold your Mother” (John 19:27) was spoken to Saint John by Our Lord entrusting His mother to Saint John’s care. The motto also recalls the traditional title of Saint John’s Parish as the Mother Church of Stamford.
Father Matthew’s design evokes redemption by Christ with the use of the gold cross. With other symbols, connections are made with Benedict XVI, Blessed Pope Pius IX, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Archdiocese of Hartford and the Diocese of Bridgeport and the symbol of Saint John the Evangelist.
The sacred music for the Vespers and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was beautifully done by the Basilica schola under the direction of Scott Turkington, who after 11 years, is taking a job as the director of music at the Charleston, SC cathedral. The psalmody was executed well so that all knew their respective parts. The schola sang Palestrina’s Tu es Petrus, Victoria’s Magnificat and Tantum Ergo along with the Vesperal psalmody.
In his homily the bishop made the connection with the Blessed Mother and Saint John the Beloved Disciple and the paradigm the are for the Church and thus for us today. Bishop Lori reminded us of the feast of the Chair of Peter we celebrate today and the closeness we have with the Pope especially now with the basilica dignity. As the Lord entrusted to the Apostles the proclamation of the Gospel and administration of the sacraments, so the Church today is charged with the same work to spread the message of salvation. As the Church’s faith is built on the rock of Saint Peter, the prince of the Apostles, 1st among equals, and the embodiment of the Church office, especially the papacy, our faith is made firm, we are given freedom to profess Christ and to remain vigilant until the Second Coming of the Savior.
We were happy to receive a resolution from Her Excellency, M. Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut read by her assistant governor and messages from Stamford’s Board of Alderman and the Mayor.