National Basilica

National Basilica

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.

The National Basilica, Washinton, D.C.
The ambo.
A mosaic depicting Pentecost.
The mosaic of Christ on the ceiling of the North Apse.
A mosaic depicting the presentation of Jesus.
The Triumph of the Lamb mosaic.
The mosaic of Christ on the ceiling of the North Apse.
The altar prior to mass.

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.

A mosaic depiction of Joseph in the North Apse of the lower level.
Detail of the mosaic depiction of Joseph.
The mosaic of Jesus in the North Apse is just behind the tabernacle.
The mosaic of Mary in the North Apse.
The Crypt Church on the lower level of the Basilica.
The mosaic behind the altar in the Mary, Queen of Missions Chapel.
The tomb of Bishop Thomas Joseph Shahan (1857 – 1932) in the Founder’s Chapel. His is the only burial in the Basilica.
The Mother of Divine Providence sculpture on the lower level.

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.

At the end of mass.

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.

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