Monday, February 22, 2010

Peter and His Churches

As previously noted, this Washington's birthday likewise sees the ecclesial equivalent of "President's Day" -- the ancient feast of the Chair of Peter... and keeping along our Southern trip-tik, it's worth sharing that the first apostle's famous 13th century statue at the Vatican has got itself some competition.

At Disney World.

Just as the worn-toed likeness of the first Pope traditionally gets decked out in pontificals (tiara and all) for today's feast and the 29 June solemnity of Peter and Paul, so does the life-sized bronze (right) at Orlando's sanctuary of Mary, Queen of the Universe. And this 22 February, the get-up's especially appropriate -- last summer, the Magic Kingdom's parish church, opened in 1993, became the US' 63rd minor basilica, becoming (by far) the youngest of those churches whose history and significance see them given the special link with the Roman pontiff.

There's been something of a basilica binge happening of late on these shores. Since the Disney parish's July elevation, two other Stateside churches have likewise been honored: West Virginia's Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston got the nod in November, and tonight'll see a solemn vespers formally inaugurating Connecticut's second "papal church," Stamford's Basilica of St John the Evangelist.

Of the 65 US sites where the traditional ombrellino (left) and tintinnabulum are on display, half have received the distinction within the last two decades.

PHOTO: Loggiarazzi/Diocese of Orlando(1); Flickr(2)