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Pope honors St. Mary Church with new name as basilica, shrine

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A Wilmington church received a very special honor from a very special person, the pope.

St. Mary’s Church will now be called The Basilica Shrine of Saint Mary after the church was officially declared a minor basilica.

A Basilica is a church of historic, artistic, or devotional importance honored by Pope Francis.

Father Bob Kus says the church has been waiting for this since 2007, and he is overjoyed by the good news.

“Everybody is very excited,” Father Kus said. “It's been on Facebook, and people have been calling on the phone, you know, telling each other about this honor.”

Father Kus announced the honor to his congregation Sunday.

There will be an official celebration with the Bishop of Raleigh Sunday, September 8 at noon.

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