Joanie and I went on a bit of a pilgrimage this week while we were sitting with our granddaughter Emory.
Pope Francis has proclaimed 2016 a Jubilee Year of Mercy. The pontiff's call to a "revolution of tenderness and mercy" for all of us to learn forgiveness. One of the things that Catholics can do to participate and support this movement in the Church is to make a pilgrimage. One of the shrines designated as a pilgrimage destination is here in Wilmington, NC. The Basilica Shrine of Saint Mary, a wonderful example of immigrant craftsmanship.
Located at South Fifth Avenue and Ann Street in the old historic district of Wilmington, The Basilica Shrine of Saint Mary is one of the most remarkable pieces of architecture here in the Port City. A Spanish Baroque style building designed by New York architect Raphael Guastavino was built completely without steel, or wood beams or framing or nails. It is made entirely of Gaustavino mortar, brick and tile - a fireproof structure at a time when people feared fire most.
On the right of the main altar is the red and yellow papal umbrella which designates St. Mary's as a Basilica - a church where the pope can say mass.
The dome over the center of the church spot lights the brilliance of the sun into the dramatic Baroque style architecture.
The eye is drawn to the brightly colored stained glass windows signed by Mayer & Co. Munich & New York. The light creates a marvelous atmosphere for the pilgrim to stop and rest in God's holy presence for awhile.
Across Ann street from the church is another historical building in Wilmington - Tileston School. Abandoned by the New Hanover school system in the last century, the old school building sat unused until the Saint Mary parish purchased it to house their community health and social out reach center. It also houses the Saint Mary Basilica Shrine book store and gift shop. Emory found a life size cut out of Pope Francis and had her picture taken with His Holiness.