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Virtually Experience the Incarnation Dome

One of the central mysteries of our faith is the doctrine of the Incarnation – that the Word became Flesh, with the Son of God assuming a human nature, becoming truly man while remaining truly God. At the Basilica, you can find this mystery honored in the Incarnation Dome, one of the the five distinctive domes of the Basilica’s Great Upper Church. Together, the domes form a timeline of the New Testament, culminating with the Christ in Majesty mosaic in the North Apse. The Incarnation Dome is the first in this path, depicting the moment at which Christ entered this world and was made manifest.

As we celebrate the 16th anniversary of the completion of the Incarnation Dome on July 12, we invite you to learn more about this awe-inspiring art piece and experience it in 360° with our immersive virtual tour.

Incarnation Dome What Is Portrayed in the Incarnation Dome?

The mosaic scheme of the Incarnation Dome is divided into four quadrants depicting the Manifestation of Jesus: the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Wedding Feast at Cana, and the Transfiguration. Its four pendentives portray significant persons from the scriptural and prophetic accounts of the Incarnation of Jesus: the Prophet Jeremiah, the Prophet Isaiah, the Matriarch Sarah, and the Prophet Micah. The base of the dome is encircled with the passage from John 1:1:

“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and of truth.”

The intense construction process of the Incarnation Dome took over a year, as Basilica archivist Dr. Geraldine Rohling explains in the Basilica Jubilee book:

“First workers must build a two-story moveable cabin eight stories about the nave floor. Workers remove the current cement ceiling; the terra cotta brick is sand-blasted and covered in cement. After the cement cures for one month, mosaic installation begins. The dome mosaic is a full-scale painting translated by mosaicists onto a curved surface by thousands of small glass tiles. Imagine trying to install a snapshot against the concave interior of a grapefruit without distorting the picture.”

Located in the south nave, the mosaic’s area totals 3,780 sq. ft. – the same size as the Redemption mosaic.

Experience the Dome Virtually

In the virtual tour below, you can experience the Incarnation Dome in immersive 360°.

“For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.” – Nicene Creed


Rohling, Geraldine M., PhD, MAEd. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: Guide and Tour BookWashington, D.C.: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 2018.

Rohling, Geraldine M., PhD, MAEd. Jubilee 2009: A Photographic History of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

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