Interested in visiting the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception? There’s no better time to explore America’s Catholic Church than during the Month of Mary! With over 80 chapels and oratories, the Basilica is full of breathtaking art and architecture honoring the Mother of our Savior. Whether you’re taking a tour, praying in one of the Basilica’s Marian chapels, or attending Mass, the Basilica offers many opportunities to strengthen your faith.
If you’re thinking about coming to the nation’s preeminent Marian shrine this May, here are six things you should do!
During any season, we encourage visitors to strengthen their devotion by drawing near to the Lord in the celebration of Mass at the Basilica. Marvel at the music of the pipe organ resounding throughout the sanctuary, experience a renewal of spirit as you join in praise with the choir, and gain a deeper understanding of God’s Word through the liturgy when you attend one of our daily Masses.
Take a Guided Tour
If your schedule allows, we highly recommend taking a free guided tour of the Basilica. The hour-long tour includes visits to the Great Upper Church and Crypt level chapels with details about the history, art, and architecture of our nation’s preeminent Marian shrine and patronal church.
Tour the Gardens
Mary’s Garden is a tranquil spot for prayer and reflection. A statue of Mary, Protector of the Faith, stands near the bubbling fountain; its granite border has words from the Magnificat. The outer walkway features prayer benches inscribed with Scripture to inspire your meditations. The Rosary Garden provides an opportunity for visitors to meditate on the Rosary in a beautiful outdoor setting. The garden’s walkway symbolizes the thread of the Rosary with each of its beads. Five granite arches each contain four mysteries depicted in mosaic tile, and a statue of Our Lady of Fatima stands at the entrance.
Visit the Bookstore and Gift Shop
The National Shrine Shops offer a unique selection of Catholic books and gifts, including Marian jewelry, crucifixes, religious art, and rosaries. Books range from philosophical works to illustrated children’s books, piano books, and more.
Discover the Beauty of Mary in the Basilica’s Art
Did you know that the National Shrine contains the world’s largest collection of contemporary ecclesiastical art, much of which features awe-inspiring depictions of Our Lady? Meditate upon Mary’s life of faithfulness as you gaze upon the Our Lady of Sorrows sculpture, the Our Lady of Hostyn clerestory windows, and The Woman Clothed with the Sun mosaic.
Pray in One of Our Marian Chapels
The Basilica is not only a place of worship, but a place of prayer and refuge. During the quiet moments of your faith, find solace in the Our Lady of Pompei Chapel, experience God’s peace in the Our Lady of Africa Chapel, or contemplate God’s love in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel.
Rohling, Geraldine M., PhD, MAEd. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: Guide and Tour Book. Washington, D.C.: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 2018.