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Pope Declares Church in Ilocos Sur a Minor Basilica

The elevation rite for St. Nicholas of Tolentino Parish will be held on September 10, the feast of St. Nicholas.

Pope Francis has elevated the St. Nicholas of Tolentino Parish in Sinait, Ilocos Sur to the rank of a minor basilica.

Archbishop Marlo Peralta of Nueva Segovia said in an announcement on Monday that the elevation rite is set on September 10 this year, the feast of St. Nicholas. (Read: Manila Cathedral Joins Petition to Save San Sebastian Basilica)

The announcement coincided with the opening of the church’s “Jubilee Door,” and is exactly three years after the parish was declared an Archdiocesan Shrine of Sto. Cristo Milagroso.

Minor Basilica Status

Last year, the St. Nicholas of Tolentino Parish presented its request for an elevation to a minor basilica status to the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The minor basilica designation, which is given to churches around the world that have a special pastoral and liturgical significance in Catholic life, is granted solely by the Pope. (Read: Pope Francis Declares Church in Bulacan as a Minor Basilica)

In the Philippines, there are 19 minor basilicas as of writing. The latest of which is the St. Nicholas of Tolentino Parish— which is also the first minor basilica in its archdiocese, and the second in the Ilocos region.

St. Nicholas of Tolentino Parish

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The statue of Santo Cristo has been enshrined at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church in Sinait, Ilocos Sur since 1620. “Apo Lakay” draws fervent devotees to Sinait, Ilocos Sur — from all Ilocano provinces. (Photo from Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon Blog)

Built in 1574 by the Augustinian missionaries and completed in 1598, the St. Nicholas of Tolentino Parish is considered one of the oldest religious sites in the Philippines.

The shrine is home to a 400-year-old life-size image of the crucified Christ which was found in 1620 in the boundary of Sinait and Badoc, Ilocos Norte. (Read: Prayer for 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines)

Even to this day, the image of the black crucified Christ has been generating thousands of Filipino devotees— most of whom are from the provinces of Ilocos and Cagayan.

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