Washington, D. C. – August 2, 2009
We went to mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. This is the first time I have ever seen a Basilica. It was HUGE! When we arrived, we walked around the lower level of the Basilica. There were 33 separate chapels and areas to view. I thought one of the most striking was the Mary, Queen of Missions chapel. So much of the artwork in the Basilica is done with the mosaic method. That makes the details all the more amazing.
After walking around the lower level, we made our way to the upper level of the Basilica. On the upper level, there are 72 separate chapels and areas to view. As I noted, this place is HUGE! It is not only big from a floor space standpoint, but it is also big from a volume standpoint. I estimate there is enough room from the floor to the ceiling to put a three or four-story building inside the space.
As we arrived at the upper level, the mass was just letting out. We knew the noon mass would start soon, so we went in and took a seat in a pew. It just so happens we sat right in the front row. However, once mass started, I found it very difficult to concentrate or to have a real sense of reverence. The space was so huge, there was so much to look at, and the mass was such a production, I just could not get into the spirit.
After mass, we ate in the cafeteria on the lower level. It was a very good meal. I was shocked that the total cost of such a good meal was only about $7.50 per person.
After lunch, we walked through the gift store. Leslie was able to get a cross for her collection. Then it was back to the apartment.