In 1862, the first Catholic church in Dyersville was built. It was located in the lot immediately south of the current basilica. Already in 1869, its size had to be doubled to accommodate the increasing number of Catholics moving into the area. By 1880, the Catholic population had again outgrown the enlarged church, and in September 1887, construction on the present Basilica was started. The cornerstone of the church was laid on June 3, 1888, and on December 3, 1889, the new church was dedicated by Bishop Hennessy of Dubuque. In recognition of the architectural attributes of the church and the fervent faith of the congregation, St. Francis Xavier Church was raised to the rank of a minor Basilica in 1956, by special proclamation of His Holiness Pope Pius XII. At that time, St. Francis Xavier was the twelfth church in the country to receive such an honor. Today the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier is one of 53 basilicas in the United States.
Learn more about the German Heritage of Dyersville, as well as our patron, St. Francis Xavier, by watching the videos below: