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Year of Joy: 1955

In 1955, the Basilica-Cathedral celebrated the 100th anniversary of its consecration. The celebration was marked by the designation of the Cathedral to the official rank of Minor Basilica by Pope Pius XII and a visit by His Eminence Most Reverend James Charles Cardinal McGuigan, Bishop of Toronto and the first Cardinal to make an official visit to Newfoundland. At the time, this was only the ninth church to achieve this rank.

To prepare for the centenary celebrations in June of 1955, there was a great deal of restoration work completed leading up to this date including the installation of new windows, new heating and lighting, and the Marian Chapel, a small, decorative room located in the back of the Cathedral with a seating capacity of 110. As well, refurbishments were made to the organ, the bells, the Stations of the Cross, and the Pontifical Throne.

Arguably the most notable event that coincided with the centenary celebrations was the arrival of 4000 Portuguese fishermen in St. John's harbour on May 27, 1955. They had arrived with a nine-piece Shrine depicting Our Lady of Fatima to be presented to the people of St. John's and accepted by Archbishop Skinner at the Basilica. The scene of thousands of Portuguese fishermen and ship-owners proceeding their way to the steps of the Basilica is a memorable one, commemorating the strong economic fishing ties between Portugal and Newfoundland.