A church in Alexandria was named a “minor basilica” by the Vatican on Sunday, making it the first basilica in Northern Virginia. St. Mary Catholic Church will now be down as “The Basilica of Saint Mary.”
Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge announced the designation during services Sunday at the church in Old Town Alexandria, which traces its history back to George Washington.
The church was founded in 1795 and is the first Catholic parish in Virginia. Washington made the first financial contribution to the parish.
It is the 84th basilica in the U.S. and the second in Virginia, joining the Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Norfolk.
According to the church's website, a minor basilica is specifically designated by the Vatican for reasons such as historical significance and architectural beauty.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.