Categories: Easter, Holidays, Sightseeing / Travel

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

So I’m a few days late (well, if you count Easter Monday, it’d only be two days).  So let’s pretend it’s still Easter Sunday ’cause I have the perfect photos to share:  The largest Roman Catholic church in the United States–The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (it’s a mouthful, I know)– in Washington D.C.  Everything about this church is grandiose.  These photos were taken about 7.5 years ago.

Here’s an excerpt of the holiday letter I had written later that year:

“This edifice has 2 churches, the Great Upper Church (upper level) & the Crypt Church (the lower level, but more like basement level).  The Upper Church (what you see in the photo below) was completed in 1959, the Crypt Church in 1926.

Measuring 459 feet in length and covering a 77,500 square feet area, the Basilica has 60 chapels and 8 oratories (i.e. places of prayer with no altar).  The Great Upper Church can seat more than 6,000 people, the Crypt Church 400 people.  The interior of the Great Upper Church is 399 feet long with 100 feet high ceilings (the dome itself is 159 feet high); the Crypt Church is 200 feet long and 160 feet wide.”

The exterior…

East side of the church

The church is quite enormous, it couldn’t entirely fit in the camera viewfinder
Zoom your eyes to the entrance (the 3 doors near the center)…

Close-up of the 3 doors’ archways

The front entrance (south side)
See the top half of the entrance in the next photo

Notice the dome in the background?  Its rotunda is only 7 feet smaller (89 feet in diameter) than the U.S Capitol’s (96 feet)
See next photo for the Capitol…

United States Capitol
(photo from this post)

And now for the interior…

View of the organ pipes (top half of photo) and front entrance doors

Main altar, which is no longer in use; instead, a portable altar is used to be closer to worshippers (see 3rd from last photo)
Did I mention this church is massive?!

Here’s a sneak peek of the mosaics on the ceiling…


…Absolutely stunning

And in honor of Good Friday and Easter…

One of the 30+ chapels in the Upper Church

Mosaics are found virtually everywhere inside the Upper Church

The walls of this chapel are green marble

Room where Bishop Thomas Joseph Shahan (founder of the Basilica) is interred

3 breathtaking mosaics
See next 2 photos too

View from pews near front entrance

The portable altar is in foreground (bottom center of photo)

The “main” mosaic…

“The Christ in Majesty”
This mosaic contains nearly 3 million glass tiles, which took 18 artists 2½ years to complete in the 1960s…

…It covers 3,600 square feet and is 40 feet high.  Jesus Christ’s arm span alone is 34 feet wide! 

Comin’ right up is Easter Cookies.

Check out my video clips on YouTube!
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You might be interested in:
More Washington D.C. sights:
Three years ago (2009):
« « Half-off Caribou Coffee espressos in the afternoons | Free Curly Fries from Arby’s on April 17th » »


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