NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – A New Orleans church just became a member of an exclusive Catholic club.

It’s a big, beautiful church.

And it’s a big, beautiful deal says WGNO Good Morning New Orleans features reporter Bill Wood.

It’s St. Stephen Catholic Church on Napoleon Avenue.

And here, Monsignor Christopher Nalty is the pastor of the Uptown church that is now a basilica.

Bill Wood says, “I just love saying the word basilica, what does it mean to be a basilica?”

Monsignor Christopher Nalty says, “It originally was a term designating a certain type of architecture, over history, an honorary title that the Holy See gives to churches based upon certain criteria.”

In Louisiana, St. Stephen is only the third basilica in the state.

And one of just 90 in America.

People have been praying on these New Orleans pews since the 1800s.

But only now, as a basilica, the church has a new mission.

When the Pope visits New Orleans, chances are, he’ll stop by St. Stephen.

Bill Wood wonders, “Will you do a little extra dusting in case the Pope pops in?”

Monsignor Christopher Nalty says, “With a building like this, we’re always dusting.”

He says, “The honor of becoming a basilica usually goes to a cathedral or a shrine, rarely a regular parish church.”

This sacred space is rare.

It’s a Louisiana sanctuary that stands out.

And stands up.

It’s a one-of-a-kind, kind of place.

A basilica.

The Basilica of St. Stephen.