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The basilica’s heraldic shield

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At the request of the Dioceses, it is the pope who grants churches the honorific title of « basilica » It was on the 10th June 1879 that the sanctuary of Notre-Dame de la Garde received this title from Pope Leon XIII.

Each basilica has a heraldic shield always surmounted by a dais, a sort of awning with alternate red and yellow stripes. In the shield of Notre-Dame de la Garde, one finds the papal tiara and the keys of Saint Peter as a reminder that it is the pope who grants the title of basilica.

It also shows the cross of Jerusalem (called a potent cross, for each extremity forms a T which suggests a gallows (fr. potence) surrounded by four small crosses) because, before the development of aviation, all French pilgrimages to the Holyland sailed from Marseilles and, of course, intending pilgrims to Jerusalem came before their departure to entrust their pilgrimage to Notre-Dame de la Garde. It also shows a representation of the basilica Notre-Dame de la Garde.and, beneath that, one sees a rosary and fleurs de lys surounded by little gold stars.


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