Basilica Coat of Arms
The word basilica means “royal house.” In Christian history the word has two fundamental senses, one architectural, one canonical. In architectural terminology, a basilica is a church constructed according to a certain ancient Christian floor plan. In canonical language, a basilica is a church to which the Holy See has accredited that name as a total of honor.
One of the privileges of receiving the honor of Basilica status is the right to have a Coat-of-Arms. With the help of Oratorian Fr. Bochanski of Philadelphia, the Coat-of-Arms for the Basilica Shrine of Saint Mary has been created.
The red and gold umbrella atop the shield, the symbol used in all basilica coat-of-arms, and the “Keys of the Kingdom” represent the papacy.
The Star is an ancient Christian symbol of Mary, the patron saint of our basilica shrine.
The Sun with the “IHS” inside is from Pope Francis’ Coat-of-Arms. The Sun is a symbol of Jesus, and the “IHS” refers to the first three letters of “Jesus” in Greek.
The Cross of Raleigh on red field is composed of 8 diamonds that refer to the 8 deaneries of our diocese (Albemarle, Cape Fear, Fayetteville, New Bern, Newton Grove, Piedmont, Raleigh, and Tar River).
The Ship at Sea is an ancient symbol of the Church. In our case, we chose the ship because Wilmington is an East Coast seaport, and the immigrants who built our basilica came primarily from Europe by ship. The ship is a very humble one, symbolizing St. Mary parish’s long-time commitment to the poor, the marginalized, and the immigrant.