Purchase photos

Stamp becomes special part of basilica celebration





Those attending Saturday's celebration of St. Fidelis Catholic Church in Victoria being recognized as a minor basilica can take home a souvenir.

The Victoria Post Office will set up a table from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the elementary school behind the basilica to give people the opportunity to receive a special pictorial cancelation of the event.

Victoria Postmaster D.J. Kuhn said there also would be envelopes with 49-cent stamps available for purchase. She added anything brought to the table to be stamped must have a 49-cent stamp on it.

Kuhn said she got the idea for the special cancelation stamp for St. Fidelis from a similar one she helped with for Prairiesta in Russell several years ago when she was working at the Gorham Post Office.

"I thought this would be something really neat to commemorate something special," Kuhn said. "After I heard the announcement about the basilica, it was one of those things rolling in the back of my mind. I talked to a lady at (a meeting of a Catholic women's organization), and she thought it was a fantastic idea."

Kuhn said she expects people to bring postcards and envelopes, and probably the program from the dedication ceremony.

The cancelation will read: "The Dedication of the Basilica of St. Fidelis Station, June 7, 2014, Victoria, KS 67671."

Kuhn said she has received numerous requests for the commemorative cancelation from stamp collectors, many from other states, including California, Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, New York and Oregon.

Anything going in the mail with the stamp must be mailed that day. Kuhn will bring those articles to Hays so they can get in the mail by 5 p.m. Saturday. She said people could request the special stamp by mail afterwards as well, but it would not be able to be mailed after Saturday.

* The celebration Mass by Bishop Edward Weisenburger of the Salina Diocese is set for 10:30 a.m.

Anyone not able to attend the ceremony in person still can witness the event, which will mark the recognition of just the 78th minor basilica in the United States and the first in Kansas. The Mass will be streamlined live on the diocesan website at salinadiocese.org/home/multimedia/web-stream-viewer.

A lunch for 1,000 people will be served in the elementary school following Mass. No tickets are required for lunch, but there will be a basket available for freewill donations.

People from near and far are expected to participate.

"I have a lot of people call and ask about it, say they're coming," said Jan Brungardt, secretary for St. Fidelis Parish.

Present at the Mass, and from now on, in the basilica's sanctuary will be an ombrellino, an umbrella-type symbol bestowed by the pope when a church is recognized as a minor basilica, that will be placed at the right of the main altar, and a tintinnabulum, a bell mounted on a pole that signifies the church's link with the pope.

If the pope ever would celebrate Mass at the basilica, the ombrellino would be opened, and the tintinnabulum would be used to lead the procession to the altar.

"The bell," Brungardt said, "is for when the pope comes to visit. Not if -- when."