the basilica of the national shrine of the immaculate conception

Saturday, June 28:  This year, I joined the Vienna Photographic Society, which has given a boost of inspiration to me and my photography. In early June, professional photographer Brandon Kopp gave a presentation to the group about great spots for photography in the D.C. area.  The first place he mentioned, among many, was the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I took note of all his ideas, all the while brewing plans to visit his recommended sites.

This morning, I venture into the city to check out the Basilica.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Main entrance of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Main entrance of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Front entrance of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Front entrance of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
The U.S flag dancing in the breeze
The U.S flag dancing in the breeze
The view of Michigan Avenue from the steps of the Basilica
The view of Michigan Avenue from the steps of the Basilica

Brandon mentioned that the Basilica is the fourth largest cathedral in America.  What he loved about it were the diverse side chapels, each with their own distinct flavor.

I’m first smitten by the Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel.  I love the starry skies, the lettering of the Hail Mary prayer and the gold arches.

Our Lady of the Rosary
Our Lady of the Rosary
Our Lady of the Rosary
Our Lady of the Rosary
Our Lady of the Rosary
Our Lady of the Rosary

According to the Basilica’s brochure, in 1847, at the petition of the bishops of the United States, Pope Pius IX named the Blessed Virgin Mary patroness of the United States under her title of the Immaculate Conception.

Walkway along the Incarnation Dome
Walkway along the Incarnation Dome
The Incarnation & the Redemption domes
The Incarnation & the Redemption domes
The Upper Church, looking toward the Crossing and the Sanctuary
The Upper Church, looking toward the Crossing and the Sanctuary

In 1910, Bishop Thomas J. Shahan, rector of the Catholic University of America, suggested building a national shrine to honor Mary.  The foundation stone was laid on September 23, 1920.  The Crypt Church was completed in 1926 and the Crypt level in 1931.

Dome in the Miraculous Medal Chapel
Dome in the Miraculous Medal Chapel
Miraculous Medal Chapel
Miraculous Medal Chapel
Miraculous Medal Chapel
Miraculous Medal Chapel
Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel
Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel
Dome in Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel
Dome in Our Lady of Czestochowa Chapel
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Chancel

The death of Bishop Shahan in 1932 and the Great Depression brought construction to a halt. In 1953-54, Catholics throughout the U.S. contributed enthusiastically to a fund-raising effort to complete the Shrine, which was finally dedicated in 1959.  Pope John Paul II elevated the National Shrine to the rank of a minor basilica in 1990.

East Transept / Creation
East Transept / Creation
Chancel
Chancel
North Apse / Christ in Majesty
North Apse / Christ in Majesty
North Apse / Christ in Majesty
North Apse / Christ in Majesty

The interior embellishments and the addition of more than 70 chapels and oratories, bring the interior of the shrine close to completion.

Chancel domes
Chancel domes

Chancel

Blessed Sacrament Chapel
Blessed Sacrament Chapel
Blessed Sacrament Chapel
Blessed Sacrament Chapel
Blessed Sacrament Chapel
Blessed Sacrament Chapel
Our Lady of Siluva Chapel
Our Lady of Siluva Chapel
Mosaics in Our Lady of Siluva Chapel
Mosaics in Our Lady of Siluva Chapel
Close up of mosaics: Our Lady of Siluva
Close up of mosaics: Our Lady of Siluva
Mosaics in Our Lady of Siluva
Mosaics in Our Lady of Siluva
Our Lady of Siluva Chapel
Our Lady of Siluva Chapel

After wandering around for a good long time, I walk outside to visit Mary’s Garden and to see the back view of the Basilica.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, going around the back
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, going around the back
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, from the back
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, from the back
Mary's Garden
Mary’s Garden
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
The colorful dome of the Basilica
The colorful dome of the Basilica
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

I’m in awe of this amazing Cathedral.  I’m also once again amazed that this Cathedral has been in my neighborhood since I moved to northern Virginia in 1988, and I’ve never seen it before now!

Since I am in the city, I decide to head next to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which is in its final days of existence as we know it….  At least I’ve been here before!

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18 thoughts on “the basilica of the national shrine of the immaculate conception

  1. An incredible building – the interior is astonishing, and 70 chapels???? The dome reminds me of SF Mission http://wp.me/pL5Ms-Iw
    I still can’t comprehend the wealth of the ‘church’ with the poverty in the world, and don’t suppose I ever will.

    At least you are getting to explore your part of the world before you leave again – where in China are you off to?

    1. I’m trying my best to explore what I can here before I head off again, Jude. With the news tonight, the fraying of US relations with China, who knows if I’ll get to go after all. I hope so; if I do, I’ll be going to Nanning, near Vietnam and Guilin.

      The SF Mission dome does look very similar to this one. Thanks for sharing your link. 🙂

  2. It is an amazingly beautiful building but, like Heyjude, I question the wealth of the church – or any of the so-called “elite” – and the poverty in the world. It seems that wealth could be put to better use.

    1. I agree, Carol. I guess people want to build monuments to God to leave their mark in the world and possibly to “glorify” God, but I too think that wealth could be put to better use.

  3. Those ceilings are SO pretty, Cathy. I was just thinking I liked your water lilies better when I got to them. Fabulous shots!
    Catching up, on your long weekend, or have you some excitement planned? 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Jo. I’m glad you liked my water lilies better, Jo. I think comparing architecture to the water lilies is comparing apples to oranges. One is nature and one is man-made and I don’t think the two compare at all. I always prefer the beauties of nature, but I find architecture interesting too. Sometimes I like when man-made things set off nature nicely or vice versa.

      As far as my weekend, it wasn’t good. I’ll write more about it soon. I hope you had a great weekend! Hugs xxx

  4. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is on my list of places to visit in D.C. Wonderful shots, Cathy! Seeing them makes me want to visit the Basilica all the more.

  5. Isn’t this place stunning Cathy? It’s just so incredible and your photos are gorgeous. We used to go there when we lived in the area and I was always so impressed with all the mosaics. Beautiful post. 🙂 ~Terri

  6. Sorry I am so behind Cathy! I did not know you joined. Your gallery is wonderful and I just love the gold hues! I feel silly I have never heard of it.

    1. Thanks, Kathryn. I had never heard of it myself until recently! Don’t worry about being behind; I’m really behind in catching up with blogging friends!

      I’m not sure what you mean by “I did not know you joined.” ??

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