It's a big day for Old St. Patrick's Cathedral, which officially becomes a basilica of the Catholic Church by order of Pope Benedict today. The basilica designation means that the Pope will recognize it as a church of special spiritual, historical and architectural significance, and it will be his own parish church in New York.
According to WPIX, the only other basilica in the tri-state area is the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, although readers point out that there are two in Brooklyn (Cathedral Basilica of St. James and Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help), as well as Our Lady of Victory in Western NY. The Mulberry Street cathedral was the first Catholic cathedral in New York, and was first opened in 1815. The cathedral has a rich and varied history, and has been featured in many major motion pictures on NYC, from "Mean Streets" to "Godfather III" to "Gangs of New York." Archbishop Timothy Dolan told the News that it was a major honor for the cathedral to be given the designation: "This title of basilica is our way of saying, you know, Holy Father, we have a church that is historic, and beautiful...and if you make it a basilica, it will make us feel closer to you. He agreed...Perhaps I'll ask him to pay some of the bills," Dolan joked.