Week 19: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception


Mission: The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic church dedicated to the patroness of our nation, is a place of worship, pilgrimage, evangelization and reconciliation. It offers visitors the occasion for a deepening conversion, a step forward in the journey to God, with Mary as the model for that journey. This monumental church, raised by Catholics of the United States because of their devotion to Mary the Mother of God, gives visibility to their faith and Catholic heritage. Mary’s Shrine invites people from across the country and beyond into the saving moment of faith, hope and charity, so that they may be reconciled and transformed into living symbols of Christ’s presence in the world. It is here that the faithful gather to worship God, give honor to Mary, and are sent to spread God’s word wherever they go.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

It was January 6, and I aspired to go on my last of seven holiday-related Weekly Museum Visits. Since it appears easier to find Christmas events the day after Thanksgiving than the day after Christmas, I did some research. I found a small handful of museums, parks, and historic churches that continue holiday programming through what is known as (among other names) the Epiphany, La Befana, Three Kings Day, and Twelfth Night.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Additionally, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was still seasonally decorated on January 6. I spent an hour and a half wandering the church by myself, choosing to forgo the guided tour. My primary objective was to not get in the way of people who were there as worshipers, not just as museum visitors. My secondary objective was to see everything I could.

How to describe the National Shrine? Breathtakingly gorgeous. The countless Christmas trees added their beauty, but the large domes and numerous smaller chapels would have been majestic at any time of year. Since this was a very temperate January 6, I also spent some time in the gardens.

Although there was little explanatory text to read, I (and my camera) interacted with the art: stained glass, mosaics, statuary, various Nativity scenes.  Every time I thought I was finished touring, I found a new side chapel or staircase. I also saw a gingerbread replica of the National Shrine.

It is time to draw another enjoyable museum-filled holiday season to a close, to be resumed on November 25!

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About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
This entry was posted in Lists of Museums, Museums and Holidays, Photos, Weekly Museum Visits Part II and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Week 19: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

  1. This is so beautiful and spirtual.

  2. Carol says:

    It looks like beautiful place. I would like to see more pictures.

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