Bishop Michael Burbidge


ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP)— The Vatican has designated a historic Catholic church in northern Virginia as a basilica.

Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge announced the designation during services Sunday at St. Mary Catholic 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.

Churches receive designation as a basilica for architectural beauty, historical significance, or renown as a place of public worship.