The Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux can accommodate 4,000 people, and, with more than two million visitors a year, is the second largest pilgrimage site in France, after Lourdes. Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica on 2 June 1980. St. Therese of Lisieux was beatified in 1923 and canonised in 1925. It was decided to build a large basilica dedicated to her in the city where she lived and died. Construction started in 1929 and finished in 1954. The basilica contains 18 minor altars offered by different nations to St. Therese. Works stopped for some time due to the Second World War, but then resumed and the basilica was completed in 1954. The basic structure, which was completed before the war, suffered little damage during the bombing, which destroyed two-thirds of Lisieux. On 11 July 1951, the basilica was consecrated by Most Reverend, the Archbishop of Rouen Joseph-Marie Martin, with the Papal Legate, Maurice Cardinal Feltin.
The construction was supervised by three architects from father to son, Cordonnier - Louis Marie, and his son Louis-Stanislas Cordonnier and his grandson Louis Cordonnier. The Roman-Byzantine style of the basilica was inspired by the Sacred Heart Basilica, Paris. The building is in the shape of a Latin cross, with nave, choir and transept. The cross is surmounted by an imposing dome. The internal volume is all in one piece, without collateral or ambulatory aisles. Hence due to the absence of columns, all the faithful who attend mass have an unobstructed view. Most of the interior of the basilica is covered with mosaics.References:
The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Most of the population moved to a new settlement in the former district of Patro, calling this new municipality 'Ragusa Superiore' (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city 'Ragusa Inferiore' (Lower Ragusa). The two cities remained separated until 1926, when they were fused together to become a provincial capital in 1927.