OLEAN, NY-- The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo made a big announcement Friday morning, and it came all the way from the Vatican.
St. Mary of the Angels Church in Olean has been given the title of basilica by Pope Francis.
The designation makes the 102 year old house of worship the third "minor basilica" in the Diocese, along with Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna and Our Lady of Fatima in Lewiston.
They are called "minor basilicas" because only certain churches in Rome can be designated "major basilicas."
"Why is this a big deal? Well, basilicas are significant churches in the world that have some kind of a special bond, a unique bond with the Vatican and especially with the Pope, " said Bishop Richard Malone.
The Bishop said basilicas are distinguished by their beauty, their history and their vibrancy. He also said it brings special blessings to those who pray in the church.
Among the criteria for deciding if a church is worthy of becoming a basilica, is the architecture of the church, and also how active the parish is. Father Greg Dobson, pastor, mentions the 900 meals served at Christmas within Olean's less-than-fortunate community.