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A Guide to Advent and Christmas at the Basilica

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called
‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’” – Isaiah 9:6 (RSVCE)

Advent and Christmas are filled with anticipation and joy as we look forward to and commemorate the birth of Christ. Join us at the Basilica as we celebrate the Messiah– the greatest gift ever given.

advent candles

Each Sunday of December – Advent and Vespers

Each Sunday during Advent, the Basilica will observe Vespers at 4:00 p.m., as well as a full schedule of Masses, as we joyfully anticipate the coming of the Messiah. View Mass schedule.

choir sings at christmas

December 6 – Annual Christmas Concert for Charity

Welcome the Christmas season in joyous song with this festive concert from the Choir of the Basilica and The Catholic University of America. All proceeds from this free-will offering event will go to Brothers of Charity. View event info.

Immaculate Conception mosaic

December 9 – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Join us in celebrating our Patronal Feast Day, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. For the faithful who are able to visit the Basilica on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and participate in any sacred rite, a plenary indulgence may be obtained. View Mass schedule.

blessing of the Bambinelli

December 22 – Blessing of the Bambinelli and Lighting of the Christmas Tree

Following in the annual papal tradition in Saint Peter’s Square, the Basilica will host its annual Blessing of the Bambinelli. The faithful are invited to bring the Baby Jesus from their Nativity scene to be blessed at the Basilica. Following the Blessing of the Bambinelli, we will ceremoniously light the Christmas tree. View event info.

Children's choir sings at basilica christmas eve

December 24 – Annual Children’s Christmas Eve Mass

Families are invited to celebrate Christmas at the Basilica at the annual Christmas Eve Children’s Mass in the Great Upper Church, featuring the Choir of the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. View event info.

Choir of the Basilica

December 24 – Choral Meditations on the Nativity and Solemn Mass on Christmas Eve

Celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with musical meditations on the Nativity. The yuletide program will include music from Basilica carillonneur Robert Grogan, Basilica organists Benjamin LaPrairie and Andrew Vu, and the Choir of the Basilica. View event info.

Nativity depicted in the incarnation dome

December 25 – Solemn Mass on Christmas Day

“For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10). Rejoice in the birth of our Savior during Christmas Day Mass at the Basilica. View Mass schedule.

Great Upper Church decorated for Christmas

December 25 – 2019 Christmas Dinner

Each year, the Basilica provides meals for those who are alone or in need living in the District of Columbia and surrounding areas on Christmas Day. All are welcome, and volunteers are needed to fill many different positions. Learn more.

Celebrating the Basilica’s Patronal Feast: The Immaculate Conception
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