St. Mary’s Basilica, named The Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin is the oldest Catholic parish in Phoenix and was the only Catholic parish in Phoenix until 1924. It holds a unique place in the history of the Church and in the Diocese of Phoenix. On September 2, 1985, Pope Saint John Paul II solemnly proclaimed the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be a Minor Basilica. At that time, for historical, cultural, artistic, and spiritual reasons, St. Mary’s became the 32nd basilica in the United States. While on his American Visit, Pope Saint John Paul II visited St. Mary’s knelt in prayer in the center aisle and then spoke to the crowd from the balcony on September 14, 1987. St. Mary’s Basilica is a parish of the Franciscan friars of the Province of Saint Barbara. The first Franciscan came to the area in 1539.