A continuing favorite on the blog, the Basilica Virtual Tour series presents panoramic views of the many 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 provide 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 2022!
10. Memorial Hall
With 14,400 tablets of marble and granite, Memorial Hall presents a historical record of the American Church, including the individuals, families, and religious communities that helped fund the construction of the National Shrine. The eight foundation piers record the names and events of “firsts” in the Catholic Church in America – such as the first American saint to be canonized, the founders of Catholic University of America and Georgetown University, and others. Bask in the quiet solitude of Memorial Hall, remembering the supporters of the faith that helped make Mary’s Shrine a reality for millions of Catholics today.
9. Saints of the Crypt Church – Part III
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 highlighted the stories of each of these saints, inviting you to explore how they are honored in the Basilica with our immersive virtual tour. Here in the North Apse, each chapel portrays significant individuals from the events surrounding Jesus’ life and birth.
8. Mosaics of the Great Upper Church
Did you know that the Basilica’s mosaics span a combined 93,845 square feet? In early Church history, art played an important role in showing churchgoers what they were unable to read for themselves. Today, the mosaics of the Basilica are still powerful visuals, bringing the truth of the Gospel to life in a tangible way.
7. St. Dominic Chapel
One of many chapels in the Great Upper Church, the Saint Dominic Chapel honors the 13th-century founder of the Order of Preachers, commonly known as the Dominicans. A popular tradition holds that Saint Dominic was the original recipient of the devotion of the Rosary – making it all the more fitting that this chapel is next to the Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel. It features a burnished bronze statue created by Charles Umlauf, which was one of the first bronze statues commissioned by the National Shrine.
6. Blessed Sacrament Chapel
Located in the Great Upper Church, the magnificent Blessed Sacrament Chapel is a place of repose for the Holy Eucharist at the National Shrine, and is a favorite spot for prayer and reflection for the faithful during their visits. Learn about the stunning artwork and history of this beloved chapel and explore it in 360°.
5. Joyful Mysteries Chapels
Did you know that the Basilica has chapels portraying each of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary? We invite you to turn your hearts to these mysteries celebrating the jubilance of the Messiah’s birth and early life. Now, you can explore them all in our immersive virtual tour.
4. Mary Across the Continents – Pt. I
This virtual tour series celebrates the many ways the faithful pay homage to Mary around the world. From Lourdes to La Vang, Our Lady is sought for the guidance and wisdom that she provides to the faithful across the continents. Discover how her global patronage is honored in the art and architecture of the Basilica in immersive 360°.
3. Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel
The Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel focuses on the Blessed Mother’s interior life and her love for God. With deep red marble and intricacies of gold, this chapel features a hand-carved wooden medallion, 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.
2. Basilica Gardens
You’ve probably read about the shimmering mosaics of the National Shrine, or its staggering domes and majestic façades. But did you also know that the National Shrine includes vibrant gardens redolent with sacred art and imagery? Take a virtual walk through the Basilica gardens with us!
1. The Virtues of Mary
As the Mother of God, Mary is honored for her many virtues, setting an example for the faithful in her spirit of unhesitating obedience, her heart of love, and her unwavering devotion to the Lord. Explore the chapels that honor Mary’s model of wisdom, faith, and more in this virtual tour post.