“A magnificent Catholic church”
In 1846, an excerpt from a Massachusetts newspaper told of "a magnificent Catholic church [to] be built at Washington, D.C. after the manner of the great cathedrals of the Old World from subscriptions of every Catholic Parish in America.” Spanning the late 19th, 20th and now 21st century, American Catholics would indeed build a sanctuary that rivals those of Europe and the world, not only in size but in stature as well—in sacred art, architecture, history and heritage. Dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her title of the Immaculate Conception, the Basilica is the nation’s preeminent Marian shrine. With over 70 chapels and oratories that relate to the peoples, cultures and traditions that are the tapestry of the Catholic faith and the mosaic of our great nation, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is indeed, America’s Catholic church.
This church is worth a visit. It's not very touristy and it's pretty quiet. You don't even have to be religious to appreciate it. What makes this Catholic church stand out is that it clearly has Byzantine influence. Having grown up in the Eastern Orthodox church the architecture is quite reminiscent of the Byzantine domes.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Catholic church in North America. The Byzantine-Romanesque building holds an enormous collection of religious art, as well as 70 individual chapels. Its grounds, adjacent to Catholic University, are home to Mary’s Garden, with extensive flower plantings and a reflecting pool.
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Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
- Sun - Sat: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
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