Volume 80, Number 28 | December 9 - 15, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photos by Dan Miller and Victoria Canore / DMD Images

Archbishop Timothy Dolan helped longtime former St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral pastor Monsignor Nicola Marinacci, 100, to his seat at Sunday’s basilica ceremony, as Edward Cardinal Egan and other assembled clergy applauded.

Pope brings Old St. Pat’s under basilica umbrella

By Dan Miller

On Sunday, Archbishop Timothy Dolan was joined by Edward Cardinal Egan, a cavalcade of priests and more than 1,000 worshippers to celebrate the designation of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral on Mulberry St. as the New York Catholic Archdiocese’s basilica church.

Dolan first visited “Old St. Pat’s” in June 2009 — eight weeks after taking over from Egan as head of the archdiocese — to help celebrate the venerable house of worship’s 200th anniversary. At that time, he announced he was so proud of the old cathedral that he would ask Pope Benedict to elevate it to a basilica, which means it would be the pope’s “home church” on visits.

“I just think it deserves it,” Dolan said then, citing “endurance” and “faith.” Mentioning the early cathedral community’s “tenacity,” he had recalled how the Ancient Order of Hibernians defended the church in the face of nativist mobs who sought to burn it down.

Dolan was persuasive, because this March, Pope Benedict decreed the church basilica worthy.

The old St. Patrick’s was the first seat of the Catholic Church in New York, but ceded that role to the larger, new St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Ave. when it was completed in 1879. It was also the setting for the church scene in “The Godfather.”

Sunday’s celebration took place during vespers, the evening prayer.

Gail Frohlinger, a Bayside, Queens, resident who teaches adult education at Garden City High School, created one of the two symbols included in the service, the umbraculum. In pre-Popemobile days, the umbraculum, basically, a large umbrella, sheltered pontiffs as they traveled though Rome and was decorated with that city’s official colors, red and yellow, and adorned with the Holy See’s insignia. The other symbol of a basilica, the tintinnabulum, a bell, in the old days was rung to announce the pope’s approach.

At the service, Dolan thanked government officials in attendance, including City Comptroller John Liu, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Francesco Maria Talo, the Italian consul general, who attended with his wife, Ornella.

Monsignor Donald Sakano, the cathedral’s pastor, said, “The basilica is not just a name that is a relic from the past, but a mandate to face the future and the current needs of our community.”

Da Nico Ristorante contributed the food for the after-vespers reception.





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