One of our favorite additions to the blog in 2021 was the Basilica Virtual Tour series, presenting panoramic views of the breathtaking spaces of America’s Catholic Church. For the thousands of faithful Catholics around the world who are unable to visit in person, these posts offer immersive experiences of the sacred art and architecture of the Basilica. As we close the year, we invite you to take a look at the top virtual tours of 2021!
10. Virtual Tour: The Mysteries of the Rosary
Praying the Rosary has long been a beloved Catholic practice, undertaken by the faithful to strengthen their devotion through reflection on the birth, life, sacrifice, and resurrection of our Lord. These profound mysteries of our salvation – the Mysteries of the Rosary – are grouped into the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries. Each of these mysteries is honored in the Basilica’s art and architecture in intricate detail. Reflect on the mysteries and explore these spaces virtually.
9. Virtual Tour: The Miraculous Medal Chapel
Did you know that Saint Catherine Labouré first received the devotion of the Miraculous Medal in 1830? This beloved symbol of protection is honored in the Basilica in the Miraculous Medal Chapel, which features a breathtaking blue mosaic and gilded wooden carvings that tell the story of Saint Catherine Labouré. Learn more about the devotion and explore the space where Mary is honored under this title virtually.
8. Saints of the Crypt Church: A Virtual Tour – Part I
Considered the heart of the Basilica, the Crypt Church honors 15 saints in glittering gold mosaic chapels, celebrating centuries of Catholic tradition through the lives of the faithful. In our Saints of the Crypt Church series, we highlight the stories of each of these saints, inviting you to explore how they are honored in the Basilica with our virtual tour.
7. St. Joseph’s Example of Fatherhood: A Virtual Tour
December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021 was designated as the Year of St. Joseph by Pope Francis in recognition of the 150th anniversary of his sainthood, honoring his role in the redemption story as the earthly father of Christ. St. Joseph’s faithful fatherhood and unhesitating obedience to God serve as an example for us all as we raise children in the faith.
6. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel: A Virtual Tour
According to tradition, the scapular of Carmel was presented to St. Simon Stock in the 13th century during a period when the Carmelite Order was severely oppressed. With cerulean mosaic tile and lifelike sculptures of the Blessed Mother and Carmelite saints, this chapel remains a popular site at the Basilica.
5. Virtual Tour: Our Lady of Sorrows
Over the course of her life, Mary endured many trials – but throughout it all, her attitude was one of steadfast faith and unflinching obedience. The Chapel of Our Mother of Sorrows prominently features a life-size marble sculpture of the Pietà, depicting the sixth of the Seven Sorrows: Mary holding Jesus as he is taken from the Cross. The other sorrows are sculpted in bronze and flank the Pietà. Learn more about the sorrows of Mary and explore this space virtually.
4. The Assumption of Mary: A Virtual Tour
From the mosaics replicating classic oil paintings to the tympana of the upper church, the Basilica portrays the miracle of the Assumption in a variety of places. See these stunning portrayals in immersive 360° with this virtual tour post.
3. Irish Saints of the Basilica: A Virtual Tour
Whether in the Mary, Queen of Ireland Chapel, or the St. Brigid of Ireland Chapel, the Basilica is proud to honor the stories of Ireland’s most well-loved saints and devotions. Learn more about the Catholic heritage of the Emerald Isle and enjoy panoramic views of these sacred spaces.
2. The Five Domes of the Basilica: A Virtual Tour
The Great Upper Church is composed of five distinctive domes which form a timeline of the New Testament: the Incarnation Dome, the Redemption Dome, the Trinity Dome, the Sanctification Dome, and the Triumph of the Lamb Dome. These domes lead directly to the North Apse, where Christ in Majesty is depicted in a 3,610 square-foot mosaic. Learn more about each dome and the coherent storyline that unifies them, and explore them virtually.
1. Honoring Mary as the Mother of God: Virtual Art Tour
As the Mother of Christ, Mary played an integral role in the story of redemption, demonstrating unhesitating obedience as she accepted the role God ordained for her in bringing the Savior into the world. One of the most frequently recurring motifs in the Basilica’s art, Mary as the Mother of God can be found portrayed in shimmering mosaics and majestic sculptures throughout America’s Catholic Church.