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3 Places to Find the Ascension in the Basilica

“‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’” – Acts 1:8-11 

This year, on May 12, the Church celebrates the Ascension of the Lord, honoring the fulfillment of His earthly ministry. After Jesus’ resurrection, the time came for Him to return to heaven to prepare a place for us. The Ascension serves as the ultimate demonstration of Jesus’ power over death, inaugurating His reign over heaven and earth as the living King. As you meditate upon this Glorious Mystery this week, we invite you to explore three places where you can find it portrayed in the art and architecture of the Basilica. 

1. The Ascension Chapel

The Ascension is portrayed in the Glorious Mysteries Chapels along with the other four Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary in glittering mosaics, where it is paralleled by a depiction of Elijah riding to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:1-15). In the middle of the mosaic are Jesus’ words as recorded in the Gospel of John: “I ascend to my Father and your Father” (20:17), reminding the faithful that “in Christ Jesus [we] are all children of God through faith” (Galatians 3:26). These chapels were a gift from the Catholic Daughters of America, and the chapel altars were consecrated on November 11, 1960, by Archbishop Patrick A. O’Boyle.

2nd Glorious Mystery Ascension2. The Rosary Garden Mosaic

In the Rosary Garden, the Ascension is brought to life in brilliant blue and white tile mosaic. Found in the second arch, this portrayal depicts Jesus with His arms spread wide as He is lifted into the clouds, exuding a presence of peace and omniscience. This mosaic is one of 20 total mosaics in the Rosary Garden portraying the different decades of the rosary – the Glorious, Joyful, Sorrowful, and Luminous mysteries. The Rosary Walk and Garden mosaics were designed by Martin V. Rambusch and delineated by David Gavasheli of the Rambusch Decorating Company.

Ascension mosaic in Great Upper Church Sacristry

3. The Great Upper Church Sacristy

Located in the Great Upper Church, the sacristy is the place where the sacred vessels, vestments, and liturgical items are prepared and stored, and where the clergy and liturgical ministers prepare for Mass. Here, the Ascension is portrayed in the main dome, which was designed by artist Leandro Miguel Velasco of the Rambusch Decorating Co. This depiction of the Ascension masterfully combines the sense of joy at Christ’s return to the Father with the sense of loss experienced by the disciples, who were yet to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Join us in celebrating the Solemnity of the Ascension at the Basilica this week, whether in-person or virtually from See event page for more details. 


Rohling, Geraldine M., PhD, MAEd. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: Guide and Tour BookWashington, D.C.: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 2018.

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