Monday, March 16, 2009
Basilica of Dreams: St. Francis Xavier, Dyersville, Iowa
WP Kinsella based his novel "Field of Dreams" in Dyersville, Iowa, a fitting place for building a historic structure that would bring out the best in devotional interest. Kinsella wrote about a shrine to baseball, but in reality, Dyersville is the home a truly remarkable structure, the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier. I was lucky enough to get to visit SFx this weekend, and came away impressed.
Built in 1888 by German (along with Luxemborgian) immigrants, this may be the smallest town in the US with a Basilica, as it was named by Pius XII in 1956. Seating capacity is 1200 (including the choir loft). I was informed that 850 people were at mass on Saturday at 4PM vigil, which was an average crowd (for a parish holding 5 Masses). A little math, that makes 4,250 people per weekend in a town of 4,000. Give or take 10% tourists, and this is a well-uitlized parish.
Excellent architecture historical profile here
There is humorous stained glass of St. Francis Xavier and the "Indians", in Iroquois looking garb. This is a must see Church, explemplifying the best in Catholic Architecture and preservation of the sacred.
The Basilica is about 20 miles west of Dubuque, which also has it's share of fine churches, and 40 miles from Galena, which is an architectural gem.
Dyersville is a small city with an active Catholic Community, with a tremendous churchgoing population, as well as a Catholic High School (Beckman) and Grade School (SFx).
A round of applause to the Community of St. Francis Xavier!