A Visit to a Basilica in Iowa


The view inside. A main central area and two side areas--Basilica style layout.


Audrey and I concluded the “fun” part of fall break today (the rest will be spent in school work) with a visit to Dyersville.

The main point of our visit I’ll leave for my other blog–it was a bike ride adventure/picnic.

After the ride, we decided to visit St. Francis Xavier’s Basilica. I had been there once in the 1980s, around 1983 or 1984, when my sister-in-law got married there, but had not been back since.

Well, it’s quite a sight. Built in 1885, it’s definitely old school Catholic with images, windows, altars, you name it.  I present some photos here, with more on my Facebook page.

A traditional Catholic church like this can be a feast for the eyes or a cacophony, depending on how you look at it. Mostly, for me, it was feast. Rather than merely being in the “old style,” it was genuine old style, and almost seems to vibrate with


Detail of left side altar at Basilica. I think my sister-in-law was married before this side altar.


a fervor and sincerity that isn’t often found in modern churches.

Of course, that much imagery can overwhelm, too. I’m not sure how long it would take me to get comfortable if I were attending weekly Masses at the basilica. Although, to be fair, I think I could get more comfortable in that kind of old school church than I sometimes feel in a church that looks more like a barn or auditorium or concrete bunker.


Mary getting crowned, part of the side altar.


I felt a bit out of place at the basilica-in a good way. It felt a bit like stepping into that church put you in a different time and place with it’s own longer-term sense of reality. You don’t feel very significant standing in the basilica.

Some holy sites can give you a transcendent out of body feeling that is hard to articulate. It was a nice spot to sit quietly and contemplate for a while.

Anyway, it’s definitely a site worth seeing. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by the basilica.


Just two of the windows. The church is full of pairst of these windows, as well as paintings on the walls and ceilings, statutes, stations of the cross, three altars, etc.




Walking towards the Bascillica. As I shot, Audrey got ahead of me.



Looking up in front of the Basilica. Yup, it's tall.



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