The Pope has named James Francis Cardinal Stafford, the Major Penitentary, as his special envoy to the solemn celebrations for the dedication of the new altar of the cathedral restored one of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The celebrations will run from November 4 to 12, 2006.

The cardinal who was is a native of the Archdiocese of Baltimore will represent the Holy Father during the Mass of Dedication for the new altar in the newly renovated basilica. Cardinal Stafford was ordained for the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1957 and became an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese in 1976 before assuming the see of Memphis. Less than 4 years later, he became archbishop of Denver. He became the Major Penitentary in 1993 after serving 7 years as president for the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

While the basilica is commonly called the Baltimore Basilica, it’s official title is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The cornerstone of the basilica was laid on July 4, 1806 and construction lasted until 1821.

For those who are interested, here is the schedule of events for the grand reopening.

Saturday, November 4, 2006
Grand Opening Ceremony
(ticketed, limited public seating available), 10am

Open House, 12pm – 4:30pm

Sunday, November 5, 2006
Archdiocesan Mass, Dedication of the Altar (ticketed), 1pm

Monday, Tuesday, November 6-7, 2006
Basilica Open for Tours and Visits, 8:30am – 4:30pm

Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Concert featuring Morgan State University Choir, Peabody Children’s Choir, and Irish Tenor Mark Forrest (ticketed), 7pm

Thursday, November 9, 2006
Special Inter-Faith Prayer Service, Celebrating Religious Freedom(public), 7pm

Open House, 8:30am – 4:30pm

Friday, November 10, 2006
Inaugural Mass – Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel – with International Guests (ticketed), 10am

Outdoor Presentation (public), 11am – Open House, 8:30am – 4:30pm

Saturday, November 11, 2006
Youth Mass(ticketed),6pm

Exterior Illumination of Basilica, and a few more surprises, 7:30pm

Sunday, November 12, 2006
Mass with Bishops of the United States (ticketed), 5pm

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