FAQs: Commonly Asked Questions about the Basilica

What are the Basilica’s Hours of Operation?

Beginning Monday, June 22, the Basilica will be open from 7:30am-5:00pm daily. Those planning to attend the 8:00am Mass are permitted to enter the Basilica from 7:30am-7:55am. Those not attending the 8:00am Mass will not be admitted into the Basilica until private prayer begins at 9:00am.

How can I enter the Basilica?

  • All visitors must enter at the front lower level East Entrance (Gift Shop side facing Michigan Avenue) of the Basilica.
  • The wearing of a face covering is mandatory for all those entering the Basilica. Face coverings must remain on during the entire visit except for the reception of Holy Communion.
  • All visitors must receive a temperature screening by Basilica staff. In accordance with CDC guidelines, individuals with a body temperature of higher than 100.3 will not be admitted into the Basilica.
  • Any visitor exhibiting symptoms of illness will not be permitted to enter the Basilica.
  • Prior to entering the Basilica, visitors will be given hand sanitizer and will be required to provide contact tracing information (name and telephone number) to Basilica staff for 30-day retention as requested by the District of Columbia Health Department.

What time is Mass on Sunday?

  • Beginning June 28, Sunday Mass will be celebrated at 9:00am, 12:00pm, 2:30pm (en español), and 4:30pm in the Great Upper Church.
  • Visitors must arrive at the Basilica no later than 1 hour prior to the scheduled start time of Sunday Mass to ensure ample time for entry into the Basilica, and escort and seating in the Great Upper Church. Late arrivals cannot be accommodated.
  • Face coverings must be worn except to receive Holy Communion.

What time is Mass during the week?

  • Beginning Monday, June 22, Daily Mass will be celebrated at 8:00am and 12:10pm in the Great Upper Church.
  • Visitors must arrive at the Basilica no later than 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time of Daily Mass to ensure ample time for entry into the Basilica, and escort and seating in the Great Upper Church. Late arrivals cannot be accommodated.
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times except to receive Holy Communion.

What will Mass be like?

  • Face coverings must be worn the entire time in the Basilica except to receive Holy Communion.
  • Holy Communion will be under one species.
  • Visitors must be seated in the marked pews in order to maintain social distancing.
  • Family seating is available.
  • When it is time to receive Holy Communion, please follow the directives of Basilica Ushers and Staff.
  • PDF copies of the Mass leaflet will be made available online only.

How will I receive Holy Communion?

1. Following the directives of Basilica Ushers and Staff, leave the pew and proceed to the altar in single file, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from other people.

2. Remove protective face covering upon reaching the priest.

a. If Holy Communion is received in the hand, upon approaching the priest, extend the hands with the right hand under the left in support as the Sacred Host is received.
b. The individual should then step to the side and receive the Sacred Host carefully and reverently.
c. Holy Communion may be received directly on the tongue.

3. Return to the pew maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from other people.

4. At the conclusion of Mass, please follow the directives of Basilica Ushers and Staff and exit immediately via the East Side doors.

Please note that those who wish to stay for private prayer following the Mass must exit the Basilica as directed by staff and re-enter through the front lower level East Entrance (Gift Shop side facing Michigan Avenue).

When and Where is Confession/the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

When and Where is Confession/the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

  • The Sacrament of Reconciliation will take place in the East and West Transept Chapels in the Great Upper Church.
  • The Sacrament of Reconciliation will take place Monday through Saturday from 9:00am-11:00am.
  • Penitents will still have the option to confess anonymously or face-to-face.
  • Face coverings must be worn without exception.


Please note that the Sacrament of Reconciliation will not take place on Sundays.

Is the Basilica open for private prayer?

  • Beginning Monday, June 22, the Basilica will be open for private prayer daily, Sunday-Saturday from 9:00am-5:00pm in the Crypt Church.
  • Pews will be marked to maintain social distancing.
  • Face coverings must be worn without exception.

What are the cleaning procedures like?

  • Basilica Housekeeping staff will be stationed in the Great Upper Church, the Crypt Church, and Memorial Hall. These staff members will keep watch and clean spaces as they become vacated.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at the Basilica’s entrance.

Are guided tours and audio tours available?

Guided tours and audio tours are not available until further notice.

Is the Cafeteria open for dining?

The Basilica’s Cafeteria is closed until further notice.

Is the Gift Shop and Bookstore open?

The Basilica’s Gift Shop and Bookstore are open daily from 9:00am-5:00pm. Visitors must wear a face covering and follow social distancing measures in both stores. For the safety of all guests, please only touch what you intend to purchase. To order items online please visit www.nationalshrineshops.org or call 1-800-333-4411.

What do I do if I have tested positive for COVID-19 after my Basilica visit?

If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or if you have been tested positive for COVID-19 following your recent visit to the Basilica, please contact your County Health Office and the Basilica’s Rector’s Office immediately at 202—281-0613.

Is there a Spanish Mass at the Basilica?

Yes. A Mass in Spanish is celebrated every Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in the Great Upper Church.

Where can I buy religious gifts or books?

The National Shrine has a Gift Shop and a Bookstore located on the lower level of the Basilica. Open daily except for Thanksgiving, the Gift Shop and Bookstore hours of operation are as follows:

GIFT SHOP AND BOOK STORE HOURS
Open Daily, Except Thanksgiving

Sunday – Saturday
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

To shop online please visit www.nationalshrineshops.com or call the National Shrine Shops toll free at 1-800-333-4411.

Do tours include the Knights (Bell) Tower?

No. Because it is not designed for public access, only the base of Knights Tower is a part of the Shrine tour.

May I get married or have my child baptized in the Shrine?

The Shrine does not perform weddings or baptisms because it is not a parish church. The U.S. bishops have designated it a national sanctuary of pilgrimage and prayer. The Catholic Church teaches that the sacraments are communal in nature — properly celebrated within the worshiping community, the parish. Please notify us of a wedding or baptism by sending a prayer request. We’ll gladly remember your intention on that important day!

Can my name be engraved on the walls in Memorial Hall?

Although there is no space remaining for additional names, the Shrine has a Memorial Registry program that allows new names to become part of the legacy of Memorial Hall. These perpetual remembrances may also be viewed online 24 hours a day from around the world on the Shrine web site.

How can I have a Mass said for someone?

Requests for individual Masses must be made in writing or in person. The recommended stipend is $10. Due to the great number of Mass requests received at the Shrine, we are unable to specify the exact date or where the Mass will be offered. Another popular spiritual benefit is the Shrine Guild. Through the Guild of the Basilica, you may enroll friends and loved ones annually or perpetually to be remembered in a monthly novena of Masses and the daily Rosary here at the National Shrine.

Are there any volunteer opportunities at the Shrine?

If you are interested in welcoming visitors to the Shrine as a Volunteer Docent to serve at one of our Information Desks and/or become a certified Tour Guide, we are always looking for motivated people. This is a perfect chance to be a personal witness to your faith and serve the Church in a meaningful, inspirational way in a beautiful and sacred setting. Please contact Dee Steel, Director of Visitor Services, at [email protected], for more information.

Can visiting choirs sing at the Shrine?

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception welcomes visiting choirs and is pleased to offer choral groups an opportunity to share their talents with those who come to the Basilica to visit and pray.

The Department of Music receives many requests and recognizes both the interest and preparation involved. While formal recitals are not the precedent, an opportunity to perform during a visit to the Basilica is usually a welcome occasion and choirs are scheduled to sing as the calendar allows. Periodically choirs are permitted to sing a prelude or postlude to the 5:15 p.m. Vigil Mass on Saturday or the 4:30 p.m. Mass on Sunday. Singing during a regularly scheduled liturgy is by invitation only.

Choir directors and tour consultants should be aware that the Basilica retains the right to reschedule a choir’s visit on short notice if a scheduling conflict occurs. While not a common occurrence, the Basilica, as a national church, periodically hosts significant events at unforeseen occasions, necessitating significant changes in schedules.

Please observe the following process when requesting opportunity to sing at the Basilica:

  1. Send a written request (letter or email) including a brief description of the choir (e.g. children’s choir of 40 voices; high school advanced choir of 20 voices; volunteer parish choir of 30 voices, etc.) and the preferred tour dates and times.
  2. Provide a list of sacred, unaccompanied repertoire the choir plans on having prepared for their tour.
  3. Include a brief representative recording of the current ensemble.

Please allow 30 days for a response from the Department of Music.

Questions should be directed to the Department of Music, 202-526-8300, ext. 120, or [email protected].

When are the Chapels and Oratories behind Mary Memorial Altar in the Crypt Church accessible?

The Chapels and Oratories located behind Mary Memorial Altar (i.e. Our Lady of Vailankanni and Our Lady of Antipolo) remain closed to the public at this time.

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