Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, the mother congregation of area Catholic parishes, has been designated a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI.
The church is the first in Tennessee to receive such an honor and one of only 70 across the United States, Bishop Richard F. Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville told parishioners at a Mass Thursday.
Churches are designated minor basilicas, according to information from the diocese, because of their antiquity, dignity, historical value and architectural and artistic worth.
Sts. Peter and Paul was founded in 1852. Its Gothic building on Eighth Street was dedicated in 1890 and contains stained-glass windows designed by artist Louis Comfort Tiffany and 14 polychrome stations of the cross whose creator is said to have spent 17 years designing them and three years producing them.