In 1869, Boston’s Archbishop Williams invited the Redemptorists to the diocese to preach their hallmark parish missions. Within two years, these pioneering men of God erected a frame church dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In 1874, groundbreaking for a renowned church began that was completed within 4 years. The image of Our Lady was enthroned in the present Shrine in 1878.
The church was not a parish church but a mission church, people promptly labeled it “The Mission Church”. A commanding set of spires was added to the edifice in 1910, and like a lighthouse of God their golden crosses have burned high and steady over the dark rolling waves of the city’s rooftops ever since. Thousands of the faithful built a spiritual home in this church that grew to include a Grammar School, a parish hall, and a high school.
On December 8, 1954, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, through the mediation of Boston’s Cardinal Cushing, His Holiness Pope Pius XII glorified the Mission Church with the title of Basilica. In order to merit this title, a church requires an imposing architecture, a substantial number of visitors, and an important spiritual treasure.