02/02/2015 04:43 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2015

Pope Francis Designates America's Newest Basilica, Michigan's National Shrine Of The Little Flower

Bill Pugliano via Getty Images

Pope Francis has bestowed the title of "basilica" upon the historic National Shrine of the Little Flower Catholic Church in Royal Oak, making it only the second church in Michigan and one of 82 in the U.S. to carry the honorary designation.

The honor means the landmark Oakland County church, its facade marked by a mammoth sandstone tower and crucifix at Woodward and 12 Mile, will get a reconfigured name and have greater significance as a Catholic pilgrimage site. The designation also connotes a heightened relationship with the pope, so the parish will celebrate anniversaries related to the role of the papacy.

The Rev. Ryan Adams announced the designation at the start of 4:30 p.m. mass Saturday at the church, which counts 3,400 families as parishioners and is one of the largest parishes in the six-county Archdiocese of Detroit. Those in the pews greeted the news with applause.

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