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KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) - St. Mary Star of the Sea, the oldest Catholic church in South Florida, has marked its designation as a minor basilica by the Vatican with a mass and ceremony.

Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski and Father John Baker of St. Mary presided over events that attracted more than 1,200 people.

"Basilica" is a title bestowed on a church of historic and spiritual importance. St. Mary is the fifth minor basilica in Florida and the 73rd in the United States.

As well as other attributes, St. Mary is renowned for the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, erected in 1922 and said to protect Key West from serious hurricane impacts.

The new basilica's coat of arms includes a conch shell, a symbol of the Florida Keys.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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