The 1989 document Domus Ecclesiae (Norms for the Granting the Title of Minor Basilica) from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments details the certain responsibilites and privileges of a minor basilica. A minor basilica is to have a special focus on the Sacred Liturgy and fostering great care in its praxis. The seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter are to be prepared and carried out with special care. The word of God is to be proclaimed in homilies or special sermons. Sacred music is to be of special importance at liturgical celebrations. Finally, approved forms of devotion are to be fostered.

As a basilica is in communion with the Supreme Pontiff and thereby the cathedra of Peter by way of a special bond, each year, the following feasts and days must be celebrated with particular care:

  1. the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter (February 22)
  2. the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles (June 29)
  3. the anniversary of the Supreme Pontiff's election (March 13) or inauguration into the supreme ministry (March 19)

Privileges - Receiving a Plenary Indulgence


In Catholicism, the faithful have many opportunities to obtain indulgences. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1471, "An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven." Indulgences may be plenary (meaning "full") or partial. They can be applied to the person desiring it or the dead—they cannot be applied to any other living person. For a more detailed explanation of indulgences, you can look at this Indulgence Booklet, but the basics are here below.

Plenary indulgences can be obtained only once per day, while partial indulgences can be obtained more than once per day. According to The Enchiridion of Indulgences (EI), no. 21, "To acquire a plenary indulgence it is necessary to perform the work to which the indulgence is attached and to fulfill the following three conditions: sacramental confession, eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff. It is further required that all attachment to sin, even venial sin, be absent. If the latter disposition is in any way less than perfect or if the prescribed three conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence will be partial only." 

  • It is most desirable to receive Holy Communion within Mass, however, any lawful reception is acceptable.
  • In praying for the intention of the Supreme Pontiff, one Our Father and one Hail Mary suffice, although each person is free to recite any other prayer with piety and devotion. It is not required to know what the intention of the Holy Father is, just that you offer your prayers for it.
  • Sacramental confession must be within 20 days (before or after) of performing the indulgenced work. One sacramental confession suffices for gaining several plenary indulgences. However, a separate reception of Holy Communion and Prayers for the Pontiff's intention is necessary for each plenary indulgence.

Visiting a Church or Basilica


Each church in Catholicism consecrated to divine worship has at least three dates each year where the faithful have the oppportunity to obtain a plenary indulgence. These dates, found in the Enchiridion, nos. 65 and 66, are:

  1. on the celebration of the title (i.e. the saint the church is named after),
  2. on August 2nd, the *Feast of the Portiuncula (only if it is the parish church or cathedral church), and, 
  3. on the anniversary of the consecration of the church and/or the church's altar

The indulgenced act is devoutly visiting the church (or altar) and reciting the Lord's Prayer and a Profession of Faith (the Apostles' or Nicene Creed). The visit to the church to obtain the indulgence can be made any time between "noon of the preceding day to midnight at the close of the day itself." (EI, 18)

For a basilica, the opportunities for plenary indulgences increase due to its special bond with the Holy Father! Domus Ecclesiae says in IV.2 that "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." Thus, attending Mass, any sacrament, or a funeral would fulfill the indulgenced act as well as the option to recite the Our Father and Profession of faith. It then lists six dates on which the faithful can gain the plenary indulgence by visiting the basilica. The dates proper to Our Lady of Consolation are listed at the end of each line.

  1. on the anniversary of the dedication of the same basilica; (June 25 - dedicated by then-Bishop Samuel Stritch in 1925)
  2. on the day of the liturgical celebration of the title; (May 25 - Solemnity of Our Lady of Consolation)
  3. on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles; (June 29) 
  4. on the anniversary of the granting of the title of basilica; (October 21 - granted by Saint Paul VI in 1971)
  5. once a year on a day to be determined by the local Ordinary; 
  6. once a year on a day freely chosen by the each of the faithful.

Here at Our Lady of Consolation, there are three more days of the year when a person can obtain a plenary indulgence by visiting the basilica and reciting the Lord's Prayer and Profession of Faith. 

  • May 4 - the anniversary of the dedication of the High Altar, Consolation Altar, and Sorrows Altar by Bishop Stritch in 1930. (EI, n. 66)
  • August 2 - the Feast of the Portiuncula (EI, n. 65)
    • The Feast of the Portiuncula commemorates Saint Francis of Assisi requesting a plenary indulgence be granted to all who visited the Portiuncula, the little chapel Francis himself restored, where he began his Order, and where he ultimately died. The Portiuncula is now housed within the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi. Originally only granted to the Portiuncula itself, then extended over the years to all Franciscan churches, the indulgence has now been granted to all parish churches and cathedral churches.
  • October 4 - the Solemnity of Saint Francis of Assisi, Founder of the Three Orders (EI, n. 68) 
    • As the basilica is under the care of the Conventual Franciscans, "a plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful, who devoutly visit a church or oratory of Religious on the Feast of the canonized Founder, and there recite one Our Father and the Creed."