Wherever people enter the Basilica, they are greeted by the beauty and splendor of the Catholic faith, not only in the Great Upper Church, Crypt Church, and surrounding 80 chapels and oratories, but also in the National Shrine Shops. The expansive window displays of the National Shrine’s Gift Shop and Bookstore feature a sampling of the vast array of items available to pilgrims and visitors. Amy Maloney, who has been running the National Shrine Shops for a decade, is responsible for the selection of Marian jewelry, crucifixes, religious art, rosaries, books, and more for those who visit the Basilica from near and far. Today, Amy gives us a look at what it is like to work at the Basilica and her top recommendations for what to do and see when you visit.
What is the mission of the National Shrine Shops?
The mission of the National Shrine Shops is to support the mission of the Basilica in our contact with pilgrims and visitors to help make their visit as great as possible. As we offer Catholic gifts and books from around the world, we strive to continue the beautiful presentation of the Basilica.
How do you choose what to feature in the National Shrine Shops, and what are some fun/unusual items being sold this summer?
Beyond more classic offerings, items need to touch someone here to become a part of the Shops assortment. We test new merchandise to get our visitors’ responses and then make decisions based on what they tell us they like.
This summer we’re selling Catholic socks for the entire family – featuring favorite Saints, including Our Lady of Guadalupe, Saint John Paul II, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and many more. These socks bring a whole new dimension to Romans 10:15’s declaration: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring [the] good news!”
Regarding other fun items, one of my new favorites is a mug which reads: “Good Morning This is God – I will be handling all your problems today.” Who doesn’t want that?
The National Shrine Bookstore boasts a diverse selection of books, ranging from philosophical works, to illustrated children’s books and piano books! I’d like to recommend The One Minute Aquinas, which gives quick answers to fundamental questions. We also offer a wide selection of works by C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and J.R.R. Tolkien. For kids, I’d recommend the book Jesus and the 12 Dudes Who Did, and the Songs of Joy piano book (if parents can stand it!), as well as some updated illustrated Our Father and Hail Mary board books.
What are some must-see areas of the Basilica, and what is your favorite part of the Basilica?
The Great Upper Church is a definite must-see, along with the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and the chapels to Our Lady of Guadalupe and Mother of Sorrows, and of course the Trinity Dome. On the lower or Crypt level of the Basilica, try to make time for the Crypt Church and Our Mother of Africa and Our Lady of Lourdes chapels, each of which are very intimate, prayerful, and peaceful spaces located on the Crypt level.
I have many favorites here at the Basilica, but Our Mother of Africa Chapel is my number one. This chapel speaks to me in so many ways, conveying the beauty of Mother and Child, the meaning of the gate artwork (tree of life), and the struggles of the African people, as well as those around the world.
Any other suggestions for those visiting the Basilica?
For someone interested in visiting, I would suggest attending Mass if possible. Masses on Solemnities are truly special, but even daily Masses here at the National Shrine really touch the heart and soul.
How can those who can’t visit the Basilica experience the National Shrine and purchase items from the National Shrine Shops?
Definitely visit the Basilica’s new website at www.nationalshrine.org to take a virtual tour, and to shop online, visit www.nationalshrineshops.com.
How has your involvement with the Basilica strengthened your faith?
Since working here, my faith has been strengthened through a deeper devotion to Mary. Every day when I enter the Basilica, I greet our Blessed Mother and say, Mary, Mother of God, I pray to you and to your Son through you. I feel as a mother, a daughter, a woman, and a protector she is the ultimate.
Thank you for your service, Amy! We hope our readers will stop by the National Shrine Shops sometime soon and say hello.
Monday through Friday
9:00 AM – 5:30 PM
April 1 – October 31
Saturday and Sunday
8:30 AM – 7:00 PM
November 1 – March 31
Saturday and Sunday
8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Gift Shop: 202-526-4433