Friday, October 06, 2006

The Light, Restored

Mark your calendars, folks: in 29 days, Baltimore's restored Basilica of the Assumption will be re-opened after a three-year, $34 million effort to return US Catholicism's mother church to its original splendor.

The 4 November grand re-opening will kick off a week of festivities culminating with the return of the American bishops to the premier see for a Mass in the Basilica on the 12th. To commemorate the occasion, the USCCB's November Plenary has been moved to Baltimore and will begin the following morning.

For Cardinal William Keeler, Baltimore's 75 year-old archbishop, the event will likely serve as a bookend. Not long after his arrival as John Carroll's 13th successor in 1989, the national hierarchy converged on its birthplace to mark the 200th anniversary of its founding. As the bishops return for the first time since, the completion of the project nearest and dearest to his heart is being viewed as the cardinal's swan song. On reopening day, it's a safe bet that Carroll's pectoral cross will make a rare trip out of the Archbishop's Residence....

Last month, Benedict XVI named Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, the Major Penitentiary and a Baltimore native, as his legate to the rededication. Whispers will be on the ground to cover the events, so expect wall-to-wall reports and, in the meantime, a close eye on things as the big day nears.

Archdiocese of Baltimore