Basilica of St. Josaphat

Visit this Franciscan basilica to learn about its Polish heritage and admire the elegant architecture that echoes the design of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The Basilica of St. Josaphat is a landmark structure in the Lincoln Village neighborhood of Milwaukee. Learn about the basilica’s history, which stretches back to the original St. Josaphat Parish that was formed by Milwaukee’s Polish community in 1888. The basilica reflects the tenacity of the burgeoning community of Polish-Catholic immigrants, who in 1901 completed the largest church in Milwaukee and the third basilica to be built in the United States.

Check out the basilica’s magnificent Renaissance-style architecture from across the street. The church features the same design elements as St. Peter’s Basilica in Italy, from its cross-shaped floor layout to the top of its enormous 250-foot (76.2-meter) tall dome. At the time of completion, it is believed the basilica’s immense copper dome was second in size only to the United States Capitol.

Walk around to the west side of the basilica to reach the Pope John Paul II Pavilion, which contains the visitor center. Pick up a walking-tour brochure and peruse the informative displays and treasured showcases. Stroll through the spacious nave. Imagine how it would have appeared in 1901 when it was dedicated with an audience of thousands. Admire the basilica’s interior decorations, which include detailed oil paintings of biblical scenes. Painted by the Roman artist Gonippo Raggi in 1926, these paintings cover the walls and inner dome. The artist also finished the ornamental plasterwork and painted the columns with a marble effect.

Join local parishioners for a service or a concert to hear choir performances and organ music. Learn more about the basilica’s history by joining a free tour, which begins after Mass has concluded on Sundays. The visitor center is open between Monday and Saturday.

The Basilica of St. Josaphat is located in Lincoln Village, south of downtown Milwaukee. The area is easy to reach via public bus. On-site parking is available at the basilica’s parking lot. The basilica is free to visit on any day of the week.

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