Monday, April 1, 2013

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is not on most tourist brochures for those visiting Washington, D.C., but I think it should be.  It compares very favorably with many of the "older" churches I've visited in Europe and the United States, but this one is more colorful and more artistic.  It is the largest cathedral in North America and the 10th largest in the world (according to its official website).  Popes John Paul II and Benedict have both visited the Basilica on tours of the United States.  

To get to the Basilica you have to wander off the beaten path, riding on the DC Metro Red Line and traveling to the Brookland-CUA Metro station, three stops past Union Station in the direction of Glenmont (the last stop on the Red Line), then an easy few blocks to the grounds of the American Catholic University.

If you are one of the Catholic faithful (and even if you are not) this is a must see, worth spending at least half a day exploring, learning and just wandering around the Basilica.

A nun walks across the Shrine's Great Upper Church to one of the smaller chapels to pray.  

The Basilica is a shrine to the Mary, Mother of Jesus, and statues of the two are inescapable here, many from different countries around the world.

In the main sanctuary is an enormous mosaic of Jesus in a red robe.  

The Cuban Chapel

I visited the Basilica the Saturday before Easter Sunday and a symphony was preparing music for Easter Mass.  

The Crypt Chapel

The Knights of Columbus Tower

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