In 1993 the Basilica of Saint Lawrence Deacon and Martyr was elevated to a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II. This is a special designation given to a church for its historical importance or antiquity.
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The church was built and designed in the early 1900s by architects Rafael Guastavino and Richard Sharpe Smith alongside the Roman Catholic community of Asheville. Also, the architectural style is Catalan, a Spanish Renaissance influence, using curves and shapes.
The structure is built entirely with tiles and masonry materials, including the walls, floors, and ceilings. Meanwhile, with a circumference of 58 by 82 feet, the church's dome is reputed to be the largest, freestanding dome in the country.
Statues of St. Lawrence, St. Cecilia, St. Rose of Lima, St. Patrick, and St. Peter the Apostle adorn the inside of the basilica. The Daprato Statue Company made these incredible statues that are more than seven feet high. Meanwhile, the altar itself is Tennessee marble, one of the largest domestic marble companies in the U.S.
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One of the church's interior features is a Spanish woodcarving, dating back to the mid-17th century that represents Jesus, Mary, and St. John at the Crucifixion. In addition, other incredible motifs include a 17th-century painting of "The Visitation" by Massimo Stanzione. Also, adorning the church walls are 10 magnificent stained glass semi-circular windows from Munich, Germany, depicting Christ's life.
The Basilica of Saint Lawrence Deacon and Martyr is open daily from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. Also, mass is at 7:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Mass times:
- Saturday 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
- Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.
- Spanish Mass Sundays at 5:00 p.m.
In addition, complimentary guided tours require reservations.