Basilica to Dedicate Statue of Blessed Michael McGivney
on the National Shrine’s Patronal Feast Day
– Friday, December 8, 2023 • 12:10 p.m. –
Faithful Invited to Join In-Person, Online, or on EWTN
On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, the Basilica’s Patronal Feast Day and that of the United States of America, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will dedicate a new statue of the founder of the Knights of Columbus, Blessed Michael McGivney.
A parish priest from his ordination in 1877 until his death in 1890, Father Michael J. McGivney labored tirelessly to improve the condition of his 19th-century immigrant community in Connecticut. He founded the Knights of Columbus to provide financial support for widows and orphans and to keep Catholic men and their families close to their faith at a time of widespread anti-Catholic bigotry. On May 26, 2020, Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to Father McGivney’s intercession. On October 31 of that same year, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, celebrated McGivney’s Mass of Beatification as the representative of Pope Francis.
Monsignor Walter Rossi, Rector of the Basilica, said, “The Knights of Columbus have been incredibly generous to this National Shrine throughout its history, and we are happy to continue that legacy with a statue of their founder in the Hall of American Saints. We are especially pleased that this statue is being dedicated on our patronal feast day, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Blessed Michael McGivney had a particular devotion to the Blessed Mother, having dedicated the Order to Our Lady and charging all Knights to pray the rosary regularly. Now, our Blessed Founder is enshrined in Mary’s House forever.”
“On behalf of the more than 2 million Knights of Columbus around the world, I extend our gratitude and appreciation to Cardinal Gregory and Monsignor Rossi for their leadership and vision in placing a statue of Blessed Michael McGivney at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception,” said Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly. “Blessed Michael McGivney was in many ways a quintessential American priest and a model of the unity and charity that we are called to embrace as Knights. We pray that this beautiful statue will inspire Catholics around the world to grow in their faith, seek his intercession and follow his mission.”
The Knights of Columbus has had a lasting impact on the National Shrine even before its very beginnings, when Knights from Brooklyn, New York, made the first pilgrimage to the proposed site in 1923. Since that time, the contributions of the Order have been ongoing, and include the donation of the Knights Tower and Carillon (dedicated 1963), the Knights of Columbus Incarnation Dome (dedicated 2007), and support for numerous other projects. In addition, the Knights of Columbus have served countless hours for more than three decades as National Shrine ushers through the Supreme Council’s Shrine Usher Program. The Knights’ dedication to this monumental National Shrine through service and various gifts have made a lasting impact on America’s Catholic Church.
The statue of Blessed McGivney, which is a gift of the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council, was designed by artist Chas Fagan and carved of Botticino Fiorito Marble in Pietrasanta, Italy. It will be installed in the Basilica’s Hall of American Saints alongside statues of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Saint Katharine Drexel, Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.
Cardinal Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, will dedicate the Statue together with Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus.
The Mass will be available online at www.nationalshrine.org/mass and will be broadcast on the Eternal Word Television Network.
ABOUT THE BASILICA
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Roman Catholic church in North America and is among the 10 largest churches in the world. Dedicated to the patroness of the United States, the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception, the Basilica is the nation’s preeminent Marian shrine and patronal church and has been designated a national sanctuary of prayer and pilgrimage. Among those who have visited the National Shrine during its 100-year history are Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope St. John Paul II, Giovanni Cardinal Montini (Pope St. Paul VI), and St. Teresa of Calcutta.
ABOUT THE KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS
In 1882, Blessed Michael McGivney, a young parish priest in New Haven, Connecticut, founded the Knights of Columbus to serve the needs of a largely immigrant Catholic community. What began as a small fraternal benefit society has since grown into the world’s premier lay Catholic men’s organization, with more than 2 million members in over 16,600 local councils. As members of one of the world’s leading international charitable organizations, Knights around the world donated approximately 50 million service hours and nearly $185 million for worthy causes in their communities in 2022. The Knights of Columbus also offers a range of life insurance products to members and their families, and currently has more than $122 billion* of life insurance in force. In addition, the organization offers investment services in accord with Catholic social teaching through its wholly owned subsidiary, Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors, which holds more than $26 billion** in assets under management. Based on the founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity, the Knights of Columbus is committed to strengthening Catholic families and parishes, and to practicing faith in action through service to all in need. To learn more or to join the Knights of Columbus, please visit kofc.org/join.
*As of June 30, 2023
**As of July 31, 2023
ABOUT BLESSED MICHAEL McGIVNEY
Born of Irish immigrant parents in 1852 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Father McGivney was a central figure in the dramatic growth of the Church in the United States in the late-19th century. Ordained in Baltimore in 1877, he ministered to a heavily Irish American and immigrant community in Connecticut. At a time of anti-Catholic sentiment, he worked tirelessly to offer practical solutions to their many problems — spiritual and temporal alike. With a group of the leading Catholic men of New Haven, he founded the Knights in 1882 to provide spiritual support for Catholic men and financial resources for families that had suffered the loss of their breadwinner. Father McGivney died of pneumonia on August 14, 1890 — two days after his 38th birthday — after falling ill amid a pandemic. Known by his contemporaries for his devotion to the faith and his embodiment of the characteristics of the Good Samaritan, Father McGivney remains an important role model for parish priests around the world.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
A graduate of Yale University, Chas Fagan has painted portraits of all the U.S. presidents — a collection that regularly tours the country for the White House Historical Association. He also painted the portrait of Mother Teresa displayed on the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica at her canonization, a work that was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus. He is also the sculptor of two statues of Pope John Paul II at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., and the portrait of Father Michael McGivney that was featured at his beatification. Fagan’s work also includes a bronze statue of President Ronald Reagan that stands in the Capitol rotunda and likenesses of Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks that are carved into the stone detail of the narthex of Washington’s National Cathedral.