Little Free Basilicas Appearing in St. Paul

Original photo by Ali Eminov

ST. PAUL — Several cathedral-shaped structures now line the streets of various St. Paul neighborhoods, thanks to the launch of a new program intended to promote the exchange of pious figurines. 

The structures are part of the ‘Little Free Basilicas’ program, which was started by St. Mary’s Basilica after popular demand to create a space for the burgeoning religious statuette collection community.

“It’s like a Little Free Library, but better,” said Father Ricky Ingles, Bishop at Saint Mary’s Basilica, “because instead of opening a miniature library, you open a miniature version of the house of the Lord. And instead of getting, God Forgive Me, a fucking book, you can get a Saint Joan of Arc bobblehead, a Pope Francis action figure, or a kick ass headless John the Baptist.”

Since its inception, the program has received an outpouring of engagement and support. Each of the twenty Little Free Basilicas throughout St. Paul is overflowing with figurines, and residents have even formed lines waiting for their pick from the piles of papal playthings. 

“I stood in line for an hour and it was well worth the wait. I am in love with the puppet I found of the rector at the Cathedral of St. Paul,” says Clara Bryan, a St. Paul resident. “I just hope that someone loves the Pope John Paul II Funko Pop that I gave up as much as I love this puppet.”

St. Mary’s Basilica completed an inventory and found that the most popular religious figures that appear in the Little Free Basilicas are Saint Francis of Assisi, Rihanna wearing a bishop hat, and Saint Polycarp of Smyrna: Patron Saint Against Dysentery and Earaches.