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5 Chapels to Pray in at the Basilica

Whether welcoming thousands of visitors to the National Prayer Vigil for Life and Christmas Day Mass, or hosting the first canonization to take place on American soil, the Basilica has been at the heart of many significant moments in American Catholicism. Central to the Basilica’s mission, though, is not only being a place of shared worship, but serving a place of prayer and refuge – a place for the quiet moments of our faith. With over 80 chapels and oratories tucked amongst its sprawling halls and soaring marble columns, the Basilica offers a plethora of places to find solitude, seek God, and contemplate His grace and goodness.

Today, we invite you to explore five chapels at the Basilica that provide peaceful places for prayer and meditation.

  1. 1. The Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel

A candlelit replica of the grotto where Bernadette Soubirous encountered the Blessed Mother, the Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel is a favorite place of prayer and reflection for many visitors to the Basilica. Located on the lower level of the Crypt Church, its ambient lighting creates a peaceful atmosphere. Limestone rondels depict the apparition and biblical miracles of water — Moses striking the rock in the desert to produce water for the Israelites, and Jesus performing healings at the pool of Bethesda.

    1. 2. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel

    The place of repose for the Blessed Sacrament in the Great Upper Church, this chapel draws the visitor’s gaze heavenward with its majestic mosaics and cascading gold baldachin. The mosaics depict Christ’s life and death, as well as the sacraments of confirmation and baptism, in 100 different shades of gold. Each of the Popes that have visited the Basilica (John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis) began their visits with prayer in this chapel.

    1. 3. The Our Lady of Pompei Chapel

    Our Lady of Pompei is a Marian devotion celebrating victory over sin and evil — it’s no wonder then, that the faithful look to Our Lady of Pompei amidst spiritual battles. At the Basilica, you can ask for guidance in whatever spiritual battles you face in the Our Lady of Pompei Chapel in the Upper Church. This chapel features a stunning mosaic reproduction of the Our Lady of the Rosary painting in Pompei, depictions of the Luminous Mysteries, and a crucifix blessed by Pope Benedict XVI.

    1. 4. The Our Mother of Africa Chapel

    Seek comfort and peace in the secluded quiet of the Our Mother of Africa Chapel, where the rich wood and bronze sculptures of Our Mother of Africa commemorate the beacon of hope that Our Lady was to enslaved peoples. The ceiling resembles the hull of a ship, while the marble walls have etchings of fish and ocean symbols. One wall features a cherrywood cross with an ebony sculpture of Jesus by an African artist, and a bronze relief tells the story of the African American people from enslavement to emancipation.

  1. 5. The Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel

The devotion of the Immaculate Heart of Mary focuses on her interior life and love for God, making this chapel a fitting place for prayer and reflection. The rich warm colors and beautiful marbles of the chapel inspire an attitude of reverence. The focal point of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel is a hand-carved wooden medallion of the Blessed Mother with the Christ Child, which is surrounded by eight angels carved into the marble of the apse. The floor contains the seal of the Claretian Missionaries, formally known as the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, while the side wall features a mosaic of Pope Pius XII consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


The Basilica Guidebook, Dr. Geraldine Rohling


A Virtual Introduction to the Relief Sculptures of the Basilica
Pray the Way of the Cross with the Basilica This Lent