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St. Francis Basilica, Dyersville

#20 of 70 in Historic Sites in Iowa
Must see · Church · Tourist Spot
The Basilica of St. Francis Xavier is a parish church in the Archdiocese of Dubuque located in Dyersville, Iowa, United States. The church was named in honor of the missionary Saint Francis Xavier. It was raised to the status of a Minor Basilica in 1956. The church and rectory were listed together on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
Dyersville was originally settled by English immigrants. Within a few years the English moved on, and many German immigrants began to arrive in the area. A parish was founded to serve these immigrants in 1859. The first St. Francis Xavier Church was completed in 1862. The parish grew quickly and the church had to be doubled in size by 1869. By the 1880, it became clear that with the increasing Catholic population of Dyersville and the surrounding area that the old church building would no longer be adequate.
A new church building program was begun in the mid-1880s. The parish decided on a large Gothic Revival style building in order to serve the increased population. Dubuque architects Fridolin Heer, Sr. and his son Fridolin Heer, Jr. designed the church. The priest at the time, Anton Kortenkamp (1834-1889), also had the foresight to have the altar placed upon a foundation of solid rock, which is one of the requirements for an altar to be consecrated. Construction was begun in 1887, and the cornerstone was laid on June 3, 1888. The new church was dedicated by Bishop John Hennessy on December 3, 1889. When the building was dedicated, special trains brought people from all over the state of Iowa to witness the ceremony. It cost approximately $100,000 dollars to build the church. After the completion of the present building, the old church was converted into classrooms. It was later torn down after a new school was completed. Electric lights were added to the church in 1904.
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  • A beautiful sanctuary where one can sit and get a sense of peace. The altar and baptismal font are highly ornate and everywhere you look there is beauty.  more »
  • The St. Francis Basilica is a beautiful stop in quaint Dyersville. The red brick spires tower over the small town and are visible from the cornfields outside of town. The interior of the Basilica.....  more »
  • A beautiful Church with all sorts of memorable statues and paintings. It was good to be in a church that was almost full. The priest who had been newly ordained the day before gave an excellent homily and was an extremely good speaker.
  • Absolutely loved our visit to the Basilica, would definitely recommend a stop here. Beautiful Gothic interior with gorgeous carving and painting. Very calming and peaceful.

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