Washington, D.C. Stories and Tips

Bascilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Catholic Church in the United States. It is a 10-minute walk from the Brookland/CUA (Catholic University of America) Metro stop. The Church is dedicated to Our Lady. It is n prayer in stone to Our Lady with two levels, a Great Upper and Lower of Crypt Church. The Upper Church has many-sided chapels decorated in mosaic to the various appearances of Our Lady. The main alter has a Byzantine-styled mosaic (said to be the largest in the world) of Our Lord. He has his arms upraised and looks quite stern. The guide said that many people are disturbed by this Byzantine-styled Jesus, as opposed to the meeker, softer Jesus of Latin depictions, but I liked it just fine. I thought it was an accurate portrait of Our Lord at the Second Coming, ready to separate the sheep (those going to heaven) from the goats (those going to hell). Also, one transept has a frightening mosaic taken from the book of the Apocalypse (Revelations); a great Red Dragon, and the Women Clothed with the Sun, pregnant with our Lord. Rarely have I seen anything from the final book of the Bible depicted anywhere in a Catholic Church. Tours are available, but we just walked through ourselves.

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