The Basilica of St. Josephat in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a favorite spiritual destination of those living in Wisconsin and people who are traveling in the area. Like many Basilicas in America, its design is based on one of the four Major Basilicas in Rome. Few realize that Basilicas were originally social and retail establishments when built, but later became the religious icons they are today after Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire. St. Josephat became a Basilica in 1929, and was the third church in the United States to be apppointed as such. There were a few characteristics required to meet the definition of a Basilica and St. Josephat's met them all. It was a place of devotion and pilgrimage, its artistic and architectural characteristics were suitable, and it was a place of faith-based historical significance.
In addition to being recognized as an official Basilica, St. Josephat's is a Franciscan center for prayer. This means the public is welcome to visit and meditate, while also learning about the religious history of the Parish and the Catholic faith in Milwaukee. Those who are no Catholic may also enjoy a visit to the Basilica due to its architectural and historic significance. The church is a beautiful place to take photos and the story of the Parish is one that gives a detailed look into the history of Milwaukee.
Even those who have spent their lives attending church at the Basilica are often surprised at the history of the architecture. The gray walls they see each Sunday were originally pure white, as were the ceiling and the pillars. The stained glass windows of the church features a variety of Bibilical scenes including a rendering of the Annunciation, an image of image of the Agony in the Garden, and an image of the Resurrections. Each of these windows is special and a visitor could pass hours observing and appreciating the stained glass artwork story of the church.
The windows are not the only place one will find artwork in the church. Beginning with the Basilica's first painting, the "Martyrdom of St. Josaphat,'' the art collection of the church has grown. This painting is 13 feet high and was painted by Professor J.S. Zukotynski in 1904. The art collection of the church is one of the main reasons many visitors come to the church.
The church holds weekly mass, as well as offering each of the Holy Sacraments of the Catholic church. Parents who would like to have their child baptized should contact the church in advance. They must be registered parishioners and baptisms are usually held the last Sunday of each month. Adult baptisms are also available, as is the Sacrament of Confirmation for young adults age 16 and older. There is a one year preparation program required for Confirmation. The Basilica is a popular spot for weddings in the Milwaukee area. Brides who wish to celebrate their nuptials at the church must be registered parishioners and will be required to participate in a marriage preparation program. Weddings at the church are typically booked a year in advance, so plan ahead.
Those planning a trip to Milwaukee, or living in the area and having a desire to visit the church, can do so Monday through Friday from 9:00 - 4:00 pm. There are also guided tours held after the 10:00 am mass on Sunday. The Basilica is located on South Sixth Street in one of Milwaukee's most historic neighborhoods. If you are interested in visiting or joining the church as a parishioner, contact them ahead of time during office hours.