Basilica of Saints Cyril and Methodius
For thousands of years, people of varied cultures and faiths have built shrines, temples, synagogues, chapels, churches, cathedrals, and mosques. Every one of these places of worship is a sign of the human heart's yearning to touch the divine.
For the follower of Christ, each chapel, church, and basilica is a place to "be still and know" (Ps 46:11) -- to listen in quiet and peace to God's Word and to remember the Lord's promise to be with us "always, until the end of the world!" (MT 28:20) For the Catholic, each house of God, where the Eucharist is celebrated and reserved in the tabernacle, is a place to rejoice in the gift of life, to give thanks and praise, and to be refreshed and renewed by the living Lord.
Sixty years ago the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius fulfilled a dream as the construction of a majestic dwelling place for God was completed on the grounds of Villa Sacred Heart in Danville, Pennsylvania.
The motherhouse chapel was, from the beginning, a monument to the simple faith of simple people. The sisters in the 1930s were, for the most part, the daughters of European peasants and working-class immigrants. The people who purchased the chapel's marble, mosaic, stained glass, bronze, silver, and gold worked in coal mines, steel mills, factories, and on farms across America. The fact that the sisters' motherhouse chapel was erected during the Great Depression is a testament to thousands of generous people's sense that personal hardship and poverty was passing and that what was lasting was what one gave to God.
The travertine marble of the walls, the tiles of the vaulted ceilings, the terrazzo floors, the marble of altar and baldachino, the fine oak pews, the life-size mosaics of Cyril and Methodius, the precious metals of tabernacle, central crucifix, and sanctuary lamp, and the white sculpted symbols of faith -- the Spirit over the altar, the Eucharistic symbols of the altar rail, the Madonna and St. Joseph -- all attest to the Christian virtue of magnanimity: greatness of soul. It is that virtue which concentrates beauty and care in everything done and made -- and then gives it away.
Since the dedication of the chapel on October 17, 1939, the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius have concentrated on the beauty and care of this dwelling place of God and have given it to the prayerful use of hundreds of thousands of people.
The elevation of the chapel to church and then basilica status came as a felicitous conclusion to the months-long project of restoring the edifice in 1989 for its 50th anniversary. This basilica is a sign of the Kingdom that is real, present, "already in your midst" (Lk 17:21).
The basilica calls everyone who gazes at it and ponders its meaning to recall that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb 13:7)...that he transcends time, space, and individual lives and yet remains involved and immediate. The basilica, the holy place, the place of prayer, reminds us that Christ is within our reach -- in the domed sky and the open air, in the wood of cross and pew, in the Word proclaimed and the prayer whispered, in bread and wine blessed and shared, in struggle and in love...in hearts that beat with the heart of God.
In response to Pope John Paul II's call to prepare
for the coming millennium, the basilica will be the site of pilgrimages
throughout this next year. For more information about pilgrimages and/or
liturgical celebrations held at the basilica, please contact