Proclamation from the City of Alexandria

On Saturday, March 10, Mayor Allison Silberberg read a proclamation to the congregation gathered at the 5pm Vigil Mass honoring St. Mary’s historic designation as the 84th Basilica in the United States, the first in Northern Virginia, and the first in the Diocese of Arlington.



WHEREAS, the founding of the Catholic Church of Saint Mary is closely connected with many of the early leaders of Alexandria City, especially Colonel John Fitzgerald, the former Aide-de-Camp to then General George Washington, who in 1788 made the first contribution to the church building fund;

WHEREAS, in 1795, the Very Reverend Francis Ignatius Neale, S.J., President of Georgetown College and Pastor of Holy Trinity Church, established the Church of Saint Mary as the first permanent Catholic parish in the City of Alexandria and in the Commonwealth of Virginia (which then included the territory of West Virginia). 

WHEREAS, for more than two centuries, parishioners from the Church of Saint Mary have joyfully performed corporal and spiritual works of mercy in Alexandria City and throughout the country; and soon will celebrate 225 years as the “Eldest Daughter” of the Church in the Commonwealth;

WHEREAS, Saint Mary’s School, founded in 1869 as a major parish apostolate, has educated many prominent citizens of the City of Alexandria and of Northern Virginia, and remains the largest elementary School in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington;

WHEREAS, on January 14, 2018, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Fourth Bishop of Arlington, announced that the Holy See recently granted the designation “Minor Basilica” to the Church of Saint Mary as the 84th Catholic church in the United States to receive such a distinguished title;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, ALLISON SILBERBERG, Mayor of the City of Alexandria, Virginia, and on behalf of the Alexandria City Council, do hereby proclaim and congratulate:




on the achievement of its status as a basilica and its continued service to the City of Alexandria.

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