Basilica Reopens to the Public

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will reopen on Monday, June 22, in accordance with Phase Two Guidance for COVID-19 as issued by the District of Columbia Mayor’s Office and Health Department.

The Basilica has been closed to the public since March 17 for what is believed to be the first time in its nearly 100-year history for a non-weather-related event.  During this extended closure, the Basilica was intensively cleaned and sanitized and enhanced protocols were put in place in preparation for the safe return of the faithful to America’s Catholic Church.

During Phase Two, entry into the Basilica will be limited to 250 persons at a time.  Mass, Confession, and operations schedules will be adjusted until further notice.

Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, Rector of the Basilica, states, “While we anxiously await the day when we can more fully open the doors of Mary’s Shrine, we are grateful to take this first step in reopening America’s Catholic Church.”  He adds, “The priests, religious and staff of the Basilica are eager to welcome the faithful back and ask for prayers and patience as everyone adjusts to this ‘new normal’ in these continued, unprecedented times of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Adjusted operations, schedules and protocols are as follows:


The Basilica’s hours of operation will be from 7:30 am to 5 pm daily.


All visitors must wear a face covering at all times, except as directed for the reception of Holy Communion.

Entry into the Basilica will be through the front lower level East Entrance (Gift Shop side facing Michigan Avenue).

Prior to entry, all visitors must have their temperatures scanned via a non-contact infrared forehead thermometer administered by Basilica personnel outside the East Entrance doors.  For the health, safety and welfare of all, any visitors exhibiting symptoms of illness and/or a temperature above 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit will not be permitted to enter the Basilica.

Before entering the Basilica, all visitors must sanitize their hands with hand sanitizer provided to them.

Upon entry, visitors must provide their name and phone number for 30-day retention as requested by the District of Columbia Health Department to assist with contact tracing should the Basilica be made aware of a case of COVID-19.

Once inside the Basilica, visitors must maintain a social distance of 6 feet from others, visit designated areas only, abide by all signage, and follow the direction of Basilica personnel for the health, safety and welfare of all.


The Basilica’s Mass schedule has been adjusted to allow ample time for sanitizing the Great Upper Church between Masses. Daily Mass (Monday through Saturday) will be celebrated at 8 am and 12:10 pm in the Great Upper Church, with a Vigil Mass on Saturday at 4:30 pm in the Great Upper Church. Sunday Mass will be celebrated at 9 am in the Great Upper Church, 12 noon, 2:30 pm (en español), and 4:30 pm in the Great Upper Church.

Visitors must arrive at the Basilica no later than 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time of Daily Mass and no later than 1 hour prior to the scheduled time of Sunday Mass to ensure ample time for entry into the Basilica, as well as escort and seating in the Great Upper Church. Late arrivals cannot be accommodated.

Mass on Sundays and Solemnities require advanced registration. Those interested in attending must register here.

Face coverings must be worn at all times, except for the reception of Holy Communion.

Visitors must be seated in marked pews in order to maintain social distancing.  Family seating is available.

Holy Communion will be under one species.

When it is time to receive Holy Communion, visitors must follow the directives of Basilica Ushers and Staff.

Immediately following each Mass, Mass attendees must exit the Great Upper Church through the East Side doors as directed.  Re-entry will only be allowed through the front lower level East Entrance of the Basilica, following the same entry protocol.


Confessions will be available Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 11 am in the Transept Chapels of the Great Upper Church (Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady Help of Christians, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, and Mary, Queen of All Hearts).  There will be no Confessions on Sundays until further notice.

Face coverings must be worn at all times during Confession.

Penitents will still have the option to confess anonymously or face-to-face.


The Crypt Church of the Basilica will be open for private prayer from 9 am to 5 pm daily. Private prayer in the Crypt Church will be limited to 30 minutes to allow others the opportunity to enter and pray.


The Gift Shop and Bookstore will be open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.  Visitors must wear a face covering and follow social distancing measures in both stores.


Additional information and answers to anticipated frequently asked questions may be found at


The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Roman Catholic church in North America and is one of the ten largest churches in the world.  Dedicated to patroness of the United States, the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception, the Basilica is our nation’s preeminent Marian shrine and patronal church.  The National Shrine, often referred to as America’s Catholic Church, will celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the placing of its foundation stone on September 23, 2020. 

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