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Journey to the Basilica, a pilgrimage church and the nation’s preeminent Marian shrine

The History of Pilgrimage

The practice of pilgrimage is rooted in Judaic tradition and the journey to Jerusalem. In the early days of Christianity, the faithful continued this tradition, journeying to the Holy Land to visit and pray at the places associated with the life of Christ.

During the sixth century, the pilgrimage became a penitential exercise. At the beginning of the tenth century, it assumed the character and form of tourism. In time, pilgrimages became acts of religious devotion that included not only penitential themes, but also those of intercession and gratitude. Shrines dedicated to the Blessed Mother were the major pilgrimage sites and remain so today.

The Basilica – A Pilgrimage Church

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is designated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as a pilgrimage church. It is also the preeminent Marian Shrine of the United States. With over 80 chapels and oratories that relate to the Blessed Mother and peoples from countries around the world, one can virtually make a pilgrimage to many of the great Marian shrines of the world and receive their same graces and indulgences by visiting the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Your pilgrimage to the Basilica can be tailored to suit your needs. It can be as simple as visiting on your own and walking around to pray. Or, it can include any of the following options: Guided Tour, Private Mass with your own priest, Shrine Mass attendance, a meal in the Cafeteria, or visiting the Shrine shops for a special gift or item of spiritual significance. Outdoors, you can visit Mary’s Garden or the Rosary Walk and Garden.

View Scheduled Pilgrimages

Mary’s Shrine welcomes pilgrims from around the country and around the world. Diocesan and ethnic pilgrimages are scheduled throughout the year, primarily in the Spring and the Fall. View our upcoming pilgrimage schedule to see if there is one planned that you can join or plan a pilgrimage of your own.

Submit a Pilgrimage Request

The Basilica hosts nearly one million visitors every year. Tailor your pilgrimage request to suit your group’s unique needs.

Sample Itineraries

There are many possibilities for your visit to the Basilica! View a few sample itineraries as you plan for your next pilgrimage.

Take a Virtual Tour of the National Shrine

In preparation for your upcoming pilgrimage, journey through the Basilica with a virtual tour of the unique art, domes, apses, chapels, gardens, and more.