an early Christian or medieval church of the type built especially in Italy, characterized by a plan including a nave, two or four side aisles, a semicircular apse, a narthex, and often other features, as a short transept, a number of small semicircular apses terminating the aisles, or an atrium. The interior is characterized by strong horizontality, with little or no attempt at rhythmic accents. All spaces are usually covered with timber roofs or ceilings except for the apse or apses, which are vaulted.
one of the seven main churches of Rome or another Roman Catholic church accorded the same religious privileges.
(in ancient Rome) a large oblong building used as a hall of justice and public meeting place.
Contemporary Examples

The basilica is one of a handful of churches outside the walls of Vatican City owned by the Holy See.
Italian Police Probe Vatican, Mafia Links in Teen’s Disappearance 30 Years Ago Barbie Latza Nadeau April 16, 2012

What Francis said to Law when the two of them met and briefly embraced at the Rome basilica is not known.
From Dirty War to Child Abuse, Church’s Past Confronts Pope Francis Christopher Dickey March 16, 2013

The basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a church where the faithful come to pray for cures.
‘Our Teddy Changed America’ Adam Clymer August 28, 2009

The cornerstone of this basilica was laid by John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States.
Their Cordial Meeting Proves the Common Bonds of Obama and Pope Francis Joshua DuBois March 26, 2014

The basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is not the biggest church in Boston, but it has two pieces of history.
Teddy’s Catholic Pain Adam Clymer August 25, 2009

Historical Examples

Coloured glass windows were placed in the basilica at Lyons in the fifth century, as described in the letters of Sidonius.
Leadwork W. R. Lethaby

Indeed the form of the construction of our churches was taken from these Roman basilica.
English Villages P. H. Ditchfield

basilica is a Greek word (βασιλική); a basilica was used as a court of law, and a place of business for merchants.
Plutarch’s Lives Volume III. Plutarch

He was tempted to return to the basilica, and cry the truth aloud to Marie.
The Three Cities Trilogy, Complete Emile Zola

Arrived at Beaupr, our friends made their first visit to the basilica.
Bolax Josephine Culpeper

a Roman building, used for public administration, having a large rectangular central nave with an aisle on each side and an apse at the end
a rectangular early Christian or medieval church, usually having a nave with clerestories, two or four aisles, one or more vaulted apses, and a timber roof
a Roman Catholic church having special ceremonial rights

1540s, from Latin basilica “building of a court of justice,” and, by extension, church built on the plan of one, from Greek (stoa) basilike “royal (portal),” the portico of the archon basileus, the official who dispensed justice in Athens, from basileus “king” (see Basil). In Rome, applied specifically to the seven principal churches founded by Constantine.
basilica [(buh-sil-uh-kuh)]

A large Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox church building. A basilica is built with several parallel aisles separated by rows of columns, ending in a semicircular structure, the apse. Saint Peter’s Basilica is the church of the Vatican in Rome.


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  • Basilicata

    Italian name of Lucania (defs 1, 2). Contemporary Examples In Basilicata and Calabria, hundreds of families are living in houses where electricity has been cut off. Europe’s Austerity Crisis Ravages Italy’s South Barbie Latza Nadeau October 1, 2012 Historical Examples It was the chief town of the Basilicata from 1664 till 1811, when the French […]

  • Basilisk

    Classical Mythology. a creature, variously described as a serpent, lizard, or dragon, said to kill by its breath or look. any of several tropical American iguanid lizards of the genus Basiliscus, noted for their ability to run across the surface of water on their hind legs. Contemporary Examples Just ask any of the ladies who […]

  • Basilius

    Saint, Basil, Saint. Historical Examples The latest of certain date is that of Basilius, consul of the East in 541, the last of the consuls. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 15, Slice 1 Various He named no consul after Basilius, who was the name-giving consul of 541. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 15, Slice 5 […]

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