Basilica History

A bit of our History

basilica_1891The Saint Adalbert Aid Society was formed in 1872. At that time the purpose of the fraternal aid societies that sprang up in the primarily ethnic areas of the city, was to assist new immigrants in settling in the area, finding housing, and employment. With the help of the Saint Adalbert Aid Society, and on the initiative of the many Polish people of this area, two lots were purchased in 1880 at the corner of Fourth Street and Davis Avenue, NW, and in June of 1881 construction of a small wooden church was begun. Thus, St. Adalbert Parish was soon established. In 1891 the original church was enlarged to accommodate the ever growing Polish population. In 1892, the Society constructed a large meeting hall, pictured here, which remains in use by the Society and its members today.

In early July of 1907, work began on the present church building. The cornerstone was laid on August 18, 1907, and the building was completed in late spring of 1913 for a total cost of about $150,000, including all of its furnishings. The original wood structure was moved on horse-drawn wagons to Belmont Michigan to become the parish church of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The old St. Adalbert Church was used until the late 1980′s when a new church was constructed in Belmont.

The Basilica

BASILICA comes from the Greek meaning “royal” or “regal” or “house fit for a king.” A basilica church is usually of Romanesque style, with the altar set before a rounded wall called the Apse. Over the altar is a raised Baldachino, or canopy, resting on four pillars. In order to obtain the honorific title of “Minor Basilica,” the parish church must have played a significant role in the furthering of the Faith of a particular area. St. Adalbert Basilica is the only church of this rank in the State of Michigan, and one of the very few in the United States. St. Adalbert was raised to this honor on the occasion of the centennial of the parish in grand ceremonies on February 16, 1980.