Throughout 2023, to mark the theme of the year, “Go and tell the priests to build a chapel here”, the Sanctuary has commemorated the consecration of the basilicas.
The dedication of the Basilica of Saint-Pius X took place on 25th March; the dedication of the Crypt on 19th May; the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on 2nd July and the dedication of the Rosary Basilica on 6th October.
The Sanctuary will commemorate the dedication of the Rosary Basilica during the 11:15 a.m. mass in the basilica and at the start of the torchlight procession.
The first stone of the new church was laid 140 years ago, on 16th July 1883, by Cardinal Desprez, archbishop of Toulouse, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the last apparition.
The church was not completely finished, since only the five mosaics of the mysteries of the Rosary had been completed, however all the chapels had their altars, so the church could be consecrated.
On 16th July 1901, the Bishop of Tarbes wrote to the bishops of France to invite them all to the consecration ceremony set for 6th October. On 25th July, he wrote to Pope Leo XIII to ask him if he would kindly delegate Cardinal Langénieux to consecrate the Rosary Church in his name. “The new church was like a response from the Catholic world to the pressing exhortations that Your Holiness made in his unforgettable Encyclicals, to revive devotion to the Most Holy Rosary.”
In response, on 8th September 1901, Leo XIII signed an apostolic letter entitled, “Parta humano generi”, relating to the consecration of the new church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Most Holy Rosary of Lourdes.
Sunday 6th October 1901, the consecration of the church took place. The ceremony ended at midday when the basilica bell rang out the Angelus.
Mass was then celebrated, the homily delivered by Mgr Enard, Bishop of Cahors. Monseigneur Langénieux closed the ceremony by giving the papal blessing. At 1:30 p.m., all the prelates returned in procession to the chalet for lunch.
25 years later, by apostolic brief of 24th September 1926, Pope Pius XI elevated the Church of the Rosary to a minor basilica.
The archives of the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes house the preparatory documents for these ceremonies as well as the minutes of the consecration, signed by the consecrating prelates.
What is a dedication?
A place of worship must be recognised for what it is: it is neither a performance hall, nor a museum, nor a building. It is a religious construction, a sign of transcendence in our secularised society.
By consecrating, through particular rites, a material construction made by human hands, the dedication expresses the very mystery of the Church, God’s temple built of living stones. The word “church”, whose etymology means “assembly”, is then attributed to the building in which the Christian community gathers to hear the word of God, pray together, perform the sacraments, and celebrate the Eucharist.
The dedication gives the building in question its purpose and defines its nature. Celebrating the dedication of a church is perhaps the most complete and significant of liturgical ceremonies.